"Last June a caravan of cars pulled into the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, S.D., to lay a legendary Marine to rest. Gov. Mike Rounds asked that flags be lowered to half staff across the state in tribute to Clarence Wolf Guts, the last surviving Lakota Sioux code talker of World War II.
In September Allen Dale June, one of the original Navajo code talkers, also passed away. While Navajo are the best known, 15 other Indian tribes were also involved in the use of Indian languages in the top-secret code project, which began unofficially in the trenches of World War I. Though declassified in 1968, their stories are still little known.
Veterans Day falls in the middle of American Indian Heritage Month, but those military men and many others, including Ira Hayes, Pima, who helped raise the iconic flag on Iwo Jima, and Gen. Clarence Tinker, Osage, who was the first U.S. general killed in World War II, are not names that come to mind for most people.
That’s because this is not the usual storyline of American Indian history portrayed in movies or taught in public schools. For most school children, American Indian Heritage Month typically involves a few lessons in early Indian history, arts and crafts, and the national tragedies of the 19th century. This is important material, but after the lessons one of history’s most influential indigenous populations is placed back in the closet until next year.
The Department of Defense is working to change this. For the last few years, they have used their Internet and media outlets to showcase the modern heritage that American Indians have brought to the armed forces of the United States for more than 150 years."
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Ed Hooper: Honoring Indian veterans
(Indian Country Today 11/5)