Medicine Bags and Dog Tags

Medicine Bags and Dog Tags: American Indian Veterans from Colonial Times to the Second Iraq War

Al Carroll
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 296
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    Medicine Bags and Dog Tags
    Book Description:

    As far back as colonial times, Native individuals and communities have fought alongside European and American soldiers against common enemies.Medicine Bags and Dog Tagsis the story of these Native men and women whose military service has defended ancient homelands, perpetuated longstanding warrior traditions, and promoted tribal survival and sovereignty.

    Drawing on a rich array of archival records and oral traditions, Al Carroll offers the most complete account of Native veterans to date and is the first to take an international approach, drawing comparisons with Native veteran traditions in Canada and Mexico. He debunks the "natural warrior" stereotype as well as the popular assumption that Natives join the military as a refuge against extreme poverty and as a form of assimilation. The reasons for enlistment, he argues, though varied and complex, are invariably connected to the relative strengths of tribal warrior traditions within communities. Carroll provides a fascinating look at how the culture and training of the American military influenced the makeup and tactics of the American Indian Movement in the 1960s and 1970s and how, in turn, Natives have influenced U.S. military tactics, symbolism, and basic training.

    eISBN: 978-0-8032-1629-7
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Saint Francis the Soldier (pp. 1-15)

    It was the image of the Indian in white minds that tried to set the boundaries for what Natives in the military were allowed to be. Native people used these images, turning these falsehoods against themselves, defining what Native traditions in the military became.

    World War I, World War II

    Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm

    Soldier boy, soldier boy¹

    The Black Lodge Singers are one of the most popular groups on the powwow circuit. Their veterans honor song “World Wars I and II” is a recitation of all the wars in which Native soldiers fought in the twentieth century, as well...

  5. 1 “Let’s See Some of That Apache Know-How”: Depictions of Native Veterans in Fiction (pp. 16-36)

    I remember quite well seeing the Arnold Schwarzenegger action filmPredatorfor the first time. Shortly after it premiered on cable, I watched it in a hotel the night before my army physical with other would-be recruits, Anglo, black, and Latino. None of them, including those with Native ancestry, found anything outrageous or bizarre about the character of Corporal Billy Bear, an Indian Scout who is part of a modern elite army unit fighting an alien. Take away the alien and the Central American jungle, and Billy Bear is something straight out of old westerns. Stoic and unemotional, he never...

  6. 2 “They Kill Indians Mostly, Don’t They?”: Rogers’ Rangers and the Adoption of Indian Tactics (pp. 37-47)

    Before native veterans’ traditions could become part of the U.S. military, the leaders of the military establishment had to be predisposed to welcome Natives. This admiration and emulation of Native warriors and their tactics caused the military to accept Natives as they were culturally, rather than as white reformers who favored assimilation wished them to become. Ultimately, officers and nco s who fought both alongside and against Natives became unlikely allies of Natives who wanted to use the military to maintain or reestablish traditions. Natives and non-Natives who admired them decided the Native place in the military, not progressive reformers....

  7. 3 Before a Native Veteran Tradition Can Begin: The Case of Mexico (pp. 48-61)

    Yaquis sing of san pedro as thecapitánof the army. He sits at the gates of heaven (in Yaqui song, depicted as almost the same as army headquarters) and advises the soldiers. The San Pedro of these songs is said to have such strength that he broke the bow he received from San Francisco Xavier, who is merely a foot soldier in the ranks. Yet San Francisco comes in for special mention as a great Yaqui soldier who killed akupahe, a powerful bird whose feathers are worn in the coyote dancers’ headdress. The verse of the song above...

  8. 4 Thunderbird Warriors, Injuneers, and the USNS Red Cloud: Native and Pseudo-Indian Images and Names in the Military (pp. 62-85)

    “It was not just the courage and brave deeds of Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. that went into the name of the USNSRed Cloud, but also the pain and sorrow of his mother.” Dressed in traditional regalia, Mitchell’s daughter Annita Red Cloud spoke at the dedication ceremony in 1999 for the ship named for her father. Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. from the Ho Chunk (Winnebago) tribal nation received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1952. Red Cloud died fighting while partly tied down to show great bravery in the face of death. Too badly wounded to stand up on...

  9. 5 The Super Scout Image: Using a Stereotype to Help Native Traditions Revive (pp. 86-113)

    In september 1812 Iroquois warriors allied with the British took part in rituals to prepare for war. They dressed, painted themselves, and sang purifying songs taunting their enemies and celebrating their own bravery and exploits. They sacrificed pigs with invocations asking for safe return and spiritual protection from enemies.¹

    Shortly after World War I, four Ho Chunk (Winnebago) Indian veterans related tales of their wartime experiences in a traditional ceremony lasting four nights. They spoke to the spirits of the German soldiers they killed in war. In Ho Chunk tradition, a warrior is believed to command the spirits of those...

  10. 6 “Savages Again”: World War II (pp. 114-134)

    Shortly before the battle of Okinawa, eight members of the famous Navajo Code Talkers held a traditional ceremony. They danced and prayed for a safe and easy landing. Three thousand non-Native Marines watched. The Code Talkers ended the ceremony by singing their own version of “The Marine Corps Hymn” in Dineh, the Navajo language, but still using the original melody. As the other Marines started to recognize the tune, a few cheered. But most remained quiet, fascinated and moved, and reserved their loudest shouts and applause until after the song ended.

    The landing went very well. Later, when the battle...

  11. 7 The Half-Hidden Spirit Guide Totemic Mark: Korea (pp. 135-146)

    Donald lalonde from the Sault Ste. Marie Reservation joined the air force during the Korean War. The elder Lalonde had a spirit guide totemic mark on his right forearm just like the one his son Harold got three decades later in the navy. Depending on the uniform, the marks could be either hidden or in plain view of their fellow servicemen. These marks speak as an apt metaphor for Native traditions in the military, at different times hidden or in plain view to outsiders, but both permanent and consciously chosen. The Lalondes carry on a family tradition, both in choosing...

  12. 8 An American Ka in Indian Country: Vietnam (pp. 147-162)

    Ray leanna from the Crow Creek Reservation joined the army in 1945. He went to China, where his unit worked with both the Nationalists and the Communists in rounding up the remnants of Japan’s Imperial Army. Leanna had a low opinion of both sides in China’s civil war. Nevertheless, he felt an obligation to do his duty. In 1961 he went to Laos as part of the Special Forces to train guerilla fighters for the Royal Army. The recruits came from the local Hill Tribes. Though he came from the other side of the world, the people Leanna met...

  13. 9 Bringing the War Home: The American Indian Movement, Wounded Knee II, Counterinsurgency, and a New Direction for Warrior Societies (pp. 163-172)

    One of the great ironies of the Vietnam War is that American military planners and conservative politicians treated Communists like Indians and Indians like Communists. Both sets of enemies became “Reds” in both meanings of the slur. OftenbothAmerican Indian activists and the government agents who dealt with them came straight out of combat in Vietnam and brought that experience of fighting a guerilla war to American soil. Protests or civil disorder sometimes escalated into heavily armed semi-military confrontations.

    In 1973 in the middle of the unfolding Watergate scandal, America woke up to potentially face what seemed to be...

  14. 10 “Fighting Terrorism since 1492 ”: The Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Second Iraq War (pp. 173-206)

    Less than a month after September 11, 2001, at the annual powwow in Mesa, Arizona, instead of a Native color guard of military veterans, two Anglos—a firefighter and a policeman—led the grand entry procession of Native dancers and posted the colors. This was a truly remarkable statement of public sympathy, especially given the often-troubled history of how law enforcement treats Native people. It seems to me there were two very strong messages. The first was very obvious, one that seemed to be taken to heart by Anglos in the crowd. To cops and firefighters: you are on front...

  15. 11 “A Woman Warrior, Just Like Lozen”: The Meaning of the Life of Lori Piestewa to Natives and Non-Natives (pp. 207-222)

    This chapter will be the most emotional and the most brutal one in this book, so much so that I feel I must warn the reader, especially anyone related to Lori Piestewa. For Native readers, this chapter will seem equal parts tribute and mourning that others did not share in taking part in paying respect to Lori Piestewa’s life. No doubt the antiracist or nonracist non-Native will share many of the same sentiments. I say this not only to caution the reader but to point to one of my purposes in including this chapter. I write this not simply because...

  16. Conclusion: Is It Time for Native Veteran Traditions to End? (pp. 223-230)

    By the time gordon roy served in Vietnam, his family already had fourteen members who had served in World War II, ten who had served in Korea, and eight others who had served in Vietnam. Four more family members served in the Gulf War and two were stationed in Bosnia.¹ Families like the Roys are not unusual among Native communities, and I hope my work helps explain why military service was so highly valued by Native people for so long. The military provided a means for cultural preservation, revival, and defense in a way that few other Anglo-American institutions have...

  17. Appendix of Tables (pp. 231-234)
  18. Notes (pp. 235-264)
  19. Bibliography (pp. 265-274)
  20. Index (pp. 275-287)


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