Featured Document Display: Honoring Native American Soldiers' World War I Service
Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - Thursday, November 19, 2020
Patriotism at a cost
During World War I, an estimated 12,000 Native American soldiers served in the U.S. military, and tens of thousands of Native Americans supported the war at home by working in war industries, purchasing war bonds, and assisting in war relief efforts. American Indian soldiers were praised for their bravery at the front, but stereotypes about Native Americans as natural "warriors" led to dangerous combat assignments that resulted in higher casualty rates than those for white soldiers. On the homefront, the government justified increased loss of tribal land as a "war measure."
American Indians volunteered to serve despite a long history of discrimination against indigenous people and their traditional culture. Many Native Americans weren't even recognized as U.S. citizens. In honor of National American Indian Heritage Month and Veterans Day, these World War I records document one of the unique ways that Native American soldiers used their language and cultural heritage to serve the country.