American Indians have valiantly served in the United States Army in every war in American’s history, as well as in peacetime. They serve at the highest per capita rate among any ethnic group. And 25 Natives have received the nation’s highest award for valor – the Medal of Honor.
With contributions like those, U.S. Army leaders Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III tri-signed a “National American Indian Heritage Month” letter for the November observance.
“Throughout our Army’s 238-year history, American Indians have served valiantly and with distinction in times of peace and war, while also fighting for the right to be an equal part of our nation,” the Army leaders said.
Native Americans have served greatly for the Army and the nation, but the relationship with America hasn’t always been amicable, according to an article at the U.S. Army website.
Last year Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter addressed Soldiers and guests during the November Native American celebrations at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was then commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence according to the Army website.
"Native American heritage celebrations are very, very important because we learn about other cultures," Potter said then. "The Army has not always done so well with understanding other cultures. Native American Heritage Month is very important because that is a culture that we didn't understand.”
The U.S. Army article shared numbers from Dr. Betty D. Maxfield, chief, Office of Army Demographics, that show 8,138 America Indians who served in the Army in 2012. Of these, 3,705 were active-duty enlisted, 92 were warrant officers and 405 were officers. The Army National Guard had 2,483 enlisted, 56 warrant officers and 159 officers. The Army Reserve had 1,055 enlisted, 22 warrant officers and 161 officers.
“American Indians have a distinguished legacy in our Army – many thousands have served in the armed forces from the early days of the Revolutionary War, in support of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as Scouts with the U.S. Cavalry and as Code Talkers in World War II,” the letter reads. “This legacy continues today with the brave Soldiers who have served and continue to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. We are proud of their service and honored by their sacrifices.”
The U.S. Army will hold installations Army-wide honoring American Indians with special events like tribal dances, art exhibits, food and historical displays throughout the month.