The Black Hills Memorial Day Program

Mark your calendars. The Cheyenne River Veterans Association will be one of the hosts for this year’s Memorial Day event at Black Hills National Cemetery. The Native American Ceremony will be sponsored by Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and will be held at 1:00 p.m. MST. Memorial Day observed on the last Monday of May (May 26, 2014). The Black Hills National Cemetery is located south of the city of Sturgis in South Dakota.

CRST Vets crst veterans CRST Vets


 

Black Hills National Cemetery will play host to two Memorial Day ceremonies Monday. The ceremonies will be held at the Cemetery’s Committal Shelter to memorialize all those who answered the call, and made the ultimate sacrifice, in defense of our great Nation. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of South Dakota, will be the hosts of the Memorial Day Services.

The traditional ceremony, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of South Dakota, will be held at 11 a.m. Guest speakers will include Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Col. Mark Weatherington, Commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base. The Sturgis High School Band will perform the National Anthem.

The Native American Ceremony, sponsored by Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, will be held at 1 p.m. This is a time change from previous years.

Visitors may visit and place flowers on graves of those they loved and lost all weekend long. The general public is invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on or they may sit on the bleachers.

This year’s theme is “Never Forget, Ever Honor.”

More about Code Talker Pfc Walter John… his Grandfather

Code Talker

Dakota Code Talker

P.F.C. John, Walter C.

302ND Recon Troops

1st Cavalry Division

WWII – South Pacific

1941-1945


Previously, Walter E. John sent us information about his father Pfc Walter Charles John, a Dakota Code Talker. See: http://www.crstvets.org/code-talkers
Walter E. John has recently updated the information to include information about his great-great-great grandfather: Samuel (Red) Wolf (Code Talker Pfc Walter John’s Grandfather).

Sam

Samuel (Red) Wolf

Grandfather of P.F.C. John, Walter C.

Fought with the Dakota in the War of 1862

Became a Scout in 1873


Sam fought in the Dakota in the War of 1862 *. He was captured and scheduled to be hung until President Lincoln lowered the number to 38 – The Dakota 38. Sam was a young lad, but was imprisoned anyway. When the Civil War ended in 1865, he was set free along with the other warriors. They sent the Isanti’s POWs to their new home, in Santee, NE.
Then in 1873, Custer, began his first invasion of our Black Hills. He needed Indian scouts, so he enlisted 43 Isantis’. Samuel Wolf signed up and started out, but there was an small-pox break-out back home and he returned.
* The Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising, (and the Dakota Uprising, the Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862 or Little Crow’s War) was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux (also known as eastern Dakota). It began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota. It ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota men on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota in the largest one-day execution in American history. In April 1863, the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota.

discharge

New Video… Our Warrior Spirit: Native Americans in the US Military

Native Americans have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, long before they were allowed citizenship, and by percentage serve more than any other ethnic group in the armed forces. In a special Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian program, Native veterans shared their heroic and unforgettable stories of service in conflicts, and noted scholar and author Herman J. Viola, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, chronicles the roles of Native soldiers from 1770 to the present, including tales of tragedy, humor, loyalty, and conflict.

The program featured a panel of American Indians who have served our country in the armed forces, including Debra Kay Mooney, Choctaw, an Iraq War veteran who organized and hosted a pow wow in a war zone in Iraq in 2004; Chuck Boers, Lipan Apache/Cherokee, an Iraq War veteran and the recipient of two Bronze Star and three Purple Heart medals; John Emhoolah, Kiowa, a Korean War Veteran who joined the Oklahoma Thunderbird Division when he was still in high school and later helped lobby for the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act; and Joseph Medicine Crow, a World War II veteran who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama. Jason Giles—attorney, Marine Corps Captain, and tribal citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation—moderated.

Watch the video of this fantastic program here:

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/14/

Native Americans have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, long before they were allowed citizenship, and by percentage serve more than any other ethnic group in the armed forces. In a special Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian program, Native veterans shared their heroic and unforgettable stories of service in conflicts, and noted scholar and author Herman J. Viola, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, chronicles the roles of Native soldiers from 1770 to the present, including tales of tragedy, humor, loyalty, and conflict.

The program featured a panel of American Indians who have served our country in the armed forces, including Debra Kay Mooney, Choctaw, an Iraq War veteran who organized and hosted a pow wow in a war zone in Iraq in 2004; Chuck Boers, Lipan Apache/Cherokee, an Iraq War veteran and the recipient of two Bronze Star and three Purple Heart medals; John Emhoolah, Kiowa, a Korean War Veteran who joined the Oklahoma Thunderbird Division when he was still in high school and later helped lobby for the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act; and Joseph Medicine Crow, a World War II veteran who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama. Jason Giles—attorney, Marine Corps Captain, and tribal citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation—moderated.

Watch the video of this fantastic program here:

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/14/

Native American Veterans by the Numbers

From: Indian Country Today
September 2012 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a comprehensive profile of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans. There are currently more than 154,000 AI/AN veterans. Although Native Americans serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at a higher rate per capita than any other ethnic group, the report, titled “American Indian and Alaska Service members and Veterans,” shows that in several key measures AI/AN vets are doing worse off than other vets. Here is a selection of important stats from the VA’s study.

7.1%

The unemployement rate of AI/AN vets

4.9%

The unemployment rate for vets of all other races

15.3%

The percentage of AI/AN vets who do not have health insurance

6.3%

The percentage of vets of all other races who do not have health insurance

36.4%

The percentage of AI/AN vets who suffer from one or more disability

26.2%

The percentage of vets of all other races who suffer from one or more disability

18.9%

The percentage of AI/AN vets who have a service-connected disability rating

15.6%

The percentage of vets of all other races who have a service-connected disability rating

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/05/native-american-veterans-numbers-148001

Veteran Affairs join Indian Health Services to treat Native American Vets

WASHINGTON (AP) — Native American military veterans will be able to access health care closer to home thanks to an agreement between the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the Indian Health Service. The agreement allows for Veterans Affairs to reimburse IHS for direct health care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native veterans.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius first announced plans for the new partnership during Wednesday’s tribal summit. Veterans Affairs and IHS released more details Thursday, saying the agreement stemmed from much work among the agencies and tribal governments as they tried to find a more equitable solution for bolstering access to care for veterans, particularly those in rural areas.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki says the VA is committed to expanding access to Native veterans “with the full range of VA programs, as earned by their service to our nation.”

Native Americans and the U.S. Military

Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq61-1.htm

A Long Tradition Of Participation

American Indians have participated with distinction in United States military actions for more than 200 years. Their courage, determination, and fighting spirit were recognized by American military leaders as early as the 18th century.

I think they [Indians] can be made of excellent use, as scouts and light troops. –Gen. George Washington, 1778

Many tribes were involved in the War of 1812, and Indians fought for both sides as auxiliary troops in the Civil War. Scouting the enemy was recognized as a particular skill of the Native American soldier. In 1866, the U.S. Army established its Indian Scouts to exploit this aptitude. The Scouts were active in the American West in the late 1800s and early 1900s, accompanying Gen. John J. Pershing’s expedition to Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916. They were deactivated in 1947 when their last member retired from the Army in ceremonies at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Native Americans from Indian Territory were also recruited by Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and saw action in Cuba in the Spanish-American War in 1898. As the military entered the 20th century, American Indians had already made a substantial contribution through military service and were on the brink of playing an even larger role.

Contributions In Combat

It is estimated that more than 12,000 American Indians served in the United States military in World War I. Approximately 600 Oklahoma Indians, mostly Chotaw and Cherokee, were assigned to the 142nd Infantry of the 36th Texas-Oklahoma National Guard Division. The 142nd saw action in France and its soldiers were widely recognized for their contributions in battle. Four men from this unit were awarded the Croix de Guerre, while others received the Church War Cross for gallantry.

The outbreak of World War II brought American Indians warriors back to the battlefield in defense of their homeland. Although now eligible for the draft by virtue of the Snyder Act, which gave citizenship to American Indians in 1924, conscription alone does not account for the disproportionate number of Indians who joined the armed services. More than 44,000 American Indians, out of a total Native American population of less than 350,000, served with distinction between 1941 and 1945 in both European and Pacific theaters of war. Native American men and women on the home front also showed an intense desire to serve their country, and were an integral part of the war effort. More than 40,000 Indian people left their reservations to work in ordnance depots, factories, and other war industries. American Indians also invested more than $50 million in war bonds, and contributed generously to the Red Cross and the Army and Navy Relief societies.

Battle-experienced American Indian troops from World War II were joined by newly recruited Native Americans to fight Communist aggression during the Korean conflict. The Native American’s strong sense of patriotism and courage emerged once again during the Vietnam era. More than 42,000 Native Americans, more than 90 percent of them volunteers, fought in Vietnam. Native American contributions in United States military combat continued in the 1980s and 1990s as they saw duty in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and the Persian Gulf.

Native Americans As Warriors

As the 20th century comes to a close, there are nearly 190,00 Native American military veterans. It is well recognized that, historically, Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. The reasons behind this disproportionate contribution are complex and deeply rooted in traditional American Indian culture. In many respects, Native Americans are no different from others who volunteer for military service. They do, however, have distinctive cultural values which drive them to serve their country. One such value is their proud warrior tradition.

In part, the warrior tradition is a willingness to engage the enemy in battle. This characteristic has been clearly demonstrated by the courageous deeds of Native Americans in combat. However, the warrior tradition is best exemplified by the following qualities said to be inherent to most if not all Native American societies: strength, honor, pride, devotion, and wisdom. These qualities make a perfect fit with military tradition.

Strength

To be an American Indian warrior is to have physical, mental, and spiritual strength. A warrior must be prepared to overpower the enemy and face death head-on.

We honor our veterans for their bravery and because by seeing death on the battlefield, they truly know the greatness of life. –Winnebago Elder

American Indian soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have fought heroically in all of this century’s wars and armed conflicts. They have not only been formally recognized for their bravery through military decoration but through anecdotal observation as well.

The real secret which makes the Indian such an outstanding soldier is his enthusiasm for the fight. –U.S. Army Major, 1912

More important, however, is the warrior’s spiritual strength. Many traditional cultures recognize that war disrupts the natural order of life and causes a spiritual disharmony. To survive the chaos of war is to gain a more intimate knowledge of life. Therefore, military service is a unique way to develop an inner strength that is valued in Native American society.

Having a strong sense of inner spirituality is also a part of the Indian character. Many Native Americans are raised on rural or remote reservations, an environment that fosters self- reliance, introspection, and a meditative way of thinking. These character traits can be very beneficial when adapting to the occasional isolation of military life in times of both peace and war.

Honor, Pride, Devotion

Warriors are honored – honored by their family and their tribe. Before going into service and upon their return, warriors are recognized by family and community. Recognition takes place through private family gatherings, or through such public ceremonies as tribal dances or intertribal ceremonies.

My people honored me as a warrior. We had a feast and my parents and grandparents thanked everyone who prayed for my safe return. We had a “special” [dance] and I remembered as we circled the drum, I got a feeling of pride. I felt good inside because that’s the way the Kiowa people tell you that you’ve done well. –Kiowa Vietnam Veteran

Being a warrior in traditional American Indian society gives one a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment at a time in life when self-esteem is just developing. Becoming a warrior brings status to young men and women in their culture. The ceremonies that honor the warrior create a special place in the tribe’s spiritual world.

After I got home, my uncles sat me down and had me tell them what it [the war] was all about. One of them had been in the service in World War II and knew what war was like. We talked about what went on over there, about killing and the waste, and one of my uncles said that God’s laws are against war. They never talked about those kinds of things with me before. –Cherokee Vietnam Veteran

United States military service provides an outlet for Native Americans to fulfill a cultural purpose rooted in tradition — to fight and defend their homeland. This purpose is particularly important since it comes when young people of the tribe are normally not old enough to assume a leadership role in their traditional culture. The cultural expectation to be a warrior provides a purpose in life and is an important step in gaining status in Native America culture.

When I went to Germany, I never thought about war honors, or the four “coups” which an old-time Crow warrior had to earn in battle….But afterwards, when I came back and went through this telling of war deeds ceremony… lo and behold I [had] completed the four requirements to become a chief. –Crow World War II Veteran

Native American warriors are devoted to the survival of their people and their homeland. If necessary, warriors will lay down their lives for the preservation of their culture, for death to the American Indian warrior is but another step in the advancement of life. It is understood that the warrior’s spirit lives on eternally. So, warriors do not fear death, but rather regard it as the ultimate sacrifice for their own and their people’s continued survival.

Wisdom

The warrior seeks wisdom. Wisdom, as used in this context, means the sum total of formal learning and worldly experiences. In wartime, those Native Americans seeing heavy combat had to learn how to survive, often using skills that may unit commanders thought were inherent to the American Indian’s cultural background. A Sac and Fox/Creek Korean veteran remarked:

My platoon commander always sent me out on patrols. He. . . probably thought that I could track down the enemy. I don’t know for sure, but I guess he figured that Indians were warriors and hunters by nature.

Many American Indians (as well as non-Indian volunteers) joined the military in World War I to satisfy their sense of adventure. Most had never left the confines of their hometown, much less marched on the battlefields of Europe. These experiences provided a wisdom through exposure to other people and cultures. This was sometimes threatening to the elders of a tribe, who feared that this newfound worldliness would cause unwanted change to their culture. Over time, however, this wisdom of worldly events and peoples was accepted by tribal leaders. Today, Native Americans are increasingly exposed to the non- Indian world through movies and television. Although the military is still an avenue for seeing the world, it has, in the latter half of the 20th century, also provided other types of wisdom. Military service offers excellent educational and job skill opportunities for Native American me and women who frequently come from educationally disadvantaged communities.

Wisdom can also be gained from interaction with others. Military policy in the 20th century has preferred assimilating the American Indian into regular units. Although some divisions had more Native American troops than others, there were never all-Indian units. This meant that Indians and non-Indians were placed in close-knit groups, perhaps each experiencing each other’s culture up close for the first time.

There was a camaraderie [in the Air Force] that transcends ethnicity when you serve your country overseas in wartime. –Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Cheyenne Korean veteran

Similarly, intertribal relationships were developed, sometimes with a person who was a traditional “enemy.” Many times these intercultural and intertribal contacts broke through stereotypes and resulted in lifelong friendships, friendships that otherwise might never have been cultivated.

Thanks to my military service [in the Navy], I now have friends in 500 tribes. –Lakota Korean veteran

The Warrior Tradition Carries On

The requirements for successful military service — strength, bravery, pride, and wisdom – match those of the Indian warrior. Military service affords an outlet for combat that fulfills a culturally determined role for the warrior. Therefore, the military is an opportunity for cultural self-fulfillment. By sending young tribal members off to be warriors, they return with experiences that make them valued members of their society. Finally, the military provides educational opportunities, which allow Native American veterans to return to their community with productive job skills to improve their quality of life.

With the 21st century on the horizon, the United States military can be expected to provide continuing opportunity for Native American men and women. For their part, Native Americans can be expected to carry on their centuries-old warrior tradition- serving with pride, courage, and distinction.

Native Vote Packs a Punch—Again

By Oliver J. Semans of Indian Country Today

Who would think that a group that makes up about one percent of the overall population could carry such a wallop? From 2000, when we defeated infamous “Indian fighter” U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-Washington) and replaced him with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), to 2012, when we re-elected Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), we’ve been the deciders in states where our vote made the crucial difference.

It’s not about the candidates, though, or their parties. Neither major political party has clean hands when it comes to suppressing the Native vote. Case in point: Four Directions Inc., the voting-rights organization I co-direct, is involved in fighting two major lawsuits. One calls out Montana’s head election official, Democrat Linda McCulloch, and the other names South Dakota’s voting czar, Republican Jason Gant, for failing to support Native voting equality.

It is about empowering tribal members. Four Directions, which I run with Barb Semans, is nonpartisan and dedicated to Native voter protection and education, get-out-the-vote activities and a crazy idea called equality. Our goal is to increase Native voting and thereby the ability of Native people to better their own lives.

And it’s working. In 2012, turnout in Buffalo County, South Dakota, home of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, was up 18.6 points over the 2008 election. The county saw 74.3 percent turnout in 2012, as opposed to 55.7 percent in 2008. This was by far the largest increase of any county in the state.

Meanwhile, over in Dewey County, South Dakota, home of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, turnout was up 7.6 points from 2008—62.1 percent this year as opposed to 54.5 percent in 2008. That included double-digit increases in two precincts. Turnout statewide this year was down more than 3.3 points from the 2008 election, making these increases even more significant.

How did this happen? To a large degree, it was because the two counties agreed to set up early-voting satellite stations in tribal headquarters—the business center of any reservation, where many people may go during a state’s designated early-voting period. This dramatically eased access to the vote on reservations where distances are long, and vehicle and gas availability are low.

Dewey County went about this in an especially cost-effective way, naming a tribal member as deputy county auditor in charge of the process locally. This county is, in fact, a model of efficiency and cooperation. Rather than wasting time and precious resources by digging in and opposing equality for Native voters (including waging costly lawsuits), state and county governments should work cooperatively with tribes—as Dewey County did with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

For Four Directions, it all started in 2004, when we observed that the state of South Dakota made it easier for citizens to vote by allowing early voting for any reason for a whole 42 days prior to the election. There was one catch, though: It was not easier if you were an Indian on a reservation. To early-vote, you had to travel to the county building—generally in a distant white on-reservation or border town. The trip was long and expensive, and tribal members worried about possible harassment and profiling by law enforcement on the way.

At first, Four Directions tried negotiating with counties, and we had some success. We were able to establish satellite early-voting stations on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. Election participation increased 225 percent on the former and 245 percent on the latter. Of course, Four Directions had to pay for this equality—the costs of opening and running the offices—but by doing so, we felt we got our foot in the door. However, once our funding ran out, so did equality. Early voting dwindled to just a few days on these two reservations.

Members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe decided to Sioux, sorry I meant sue, the counties and the state for equality, and Four Directions worked with them. That lawsuit is going very well, even though South Dakota’s head election official tried to remove himself from it. The judge denied his request. The suit also kicked off the release of Help America Vote Act money to fund the satellite offices and some cooperation from the county, at least for now.

We at Four Directions are now working with our brothers and sisters in Montana, who are also denied equal access to voting. We were involved in election protection there earlier this month and are helping tribes and tribal members fight a suit alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act in Montana.

We may not have been the first ones to figure out the power of the Native vote. That was, in fact, those individuals who specialize in voter suppression. But we see what they’re doing and want to let you know that they’re right: We’re a force to be reckoned with.

What they don’t know: We can’t be stopped.

Oliver J. Semans is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and executive director of Four Directions.

VA Awards over $47 Million for State and Tribal Veterans Cemeteries

October 1, 2012

WASHINGTONThe Department of Veterans Affairs announced the award of 18 grants totaling $47,462,135 to 15 states and one tribal government to establish new Veterans cemeteries and to expand or improve others.

“VA is committed to helping state and tribal Veterans cemeteries meet national shrine standards and honor Veterans with dignified burials,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “It is vitally important that state and tribal governments have the resources necessary to offer quality services to our Nation’s Veterans and their families.”

VA provides grants to states and tribal governments to establish, expand or improve Veterans cemeteries, and for operations and maintenance projects.

Two of the larger grants for more than $14 million went to establish new state and tribal Veterans cemeteries in Louisiana and South Dakota. Louisiana received $8.3 million to build a new cemetery in Slidell, La., and the Oglala Sioux tribe received $6.5 million to establish a new tribal Veterans cemetery in Pine Ridge, S.D.  This will be the third state Veterans cemetery in Louisiana and the fourth tribal Veterans cemetery grant VA has awarded.

VA also provided 10 other expansion and improvement grants totaling more than $28 million to the following states:

Expansion and Improvement

  • Sierra Vista, Ariz. – $1.7M                                               `           Missoula, Mont. – $506K
  • North Little Rock, Ark. – $410K                                                  Little Falls, Minn. – $1.4M
  • Kauai, Hawaii – $1.2M                                                                Wrightstown, N.J. – $10.8M
  • Boise, Idaho – $2.4M                                                                  Amelia, Va. – $1.6M
  • Boulder City, Nev. – $5.1M                                                         Suffolk, Va. – $3.3M

In addition, VA awarded six operations and maintenance grants for more than $3 million to six states. The grants were disbursed as follows:

Operations and Maintenance

  • North Little Rock, Ark. – $728K                                                Sandusky, Ohio – $798K
  • Bear, Del. – $679K                                                                     Exeter, R.I. – $1.1M
  • Milledgeville, Ga. – $121K                                                         Evansville, Wyo. – $406K

The Veterans Cemetery Grants Program is designed to complement VA’s 131 national cemeteries across the country.  Since 1980, the program has awarded grants totaling more than $483 million to establish, expand, improve, operate and maintain 88 Veterans cemeteries in 43 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan.  These cemeteries provided more than 29,000 burials in 2011.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, who die while on active duty or who serve a period of active duty service as required by law, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a state Veterans cemetery.  States, territories or tribal governments may impose residency requirements and other limitations to eligibility in addition to those imposed by federal law. State eligibility requirements, however, may not be less stringent than Federal requirements.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000 or from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov.

Pictures from the Black Hills 2012 Powwow


Black hills Powwow

Black hills Powwow Black hills Powwow
Black hills Powwow Black hills Powwow
Woman Warriors

The Cheyenne River Young Marines

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. – Cheyenne River Young Marines from Eagle Butte attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Veteran’s Memorial Park and blessing of a South Dakota Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter, here Nov. 10, 2011. Since June, these first generation Young Marines have been going to “boot camp” every Friday. The Youth Marines accept children from the ages of eight to 18. “Since the start of the Young Marines, members have started to get better grades in school and have more discipline and better manners than those not in the Young Marines,” said Richard Charging eagle, commander of the Cheyenne River Veterans Association. Back row, left to right: Shana Lawrence, Colin Kills Back, Ransom Traversie, Cambryn High Elk. Front Row: Spencer Moran.

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