From Rick Waters, Co-Executive Director
It is a fact that American Indians have served, and continue to serve in the US military in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group, and Natives have served with distinction in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War.
This past weekend, there were numerous pow-wows and celebrations honoring American Indian veterans across Indian Country, including the annual Veterans Day pow-wow at the Denver Indian Center. In most, if not all of these events honoring our Native veterans, drum groups and color guards were carrying eagle staffs, tribal flags and the US flag to the drum beat and words of tribal flag songs. In the past two weeks I have heard the accounts from members of two different tribes about the origin of their respective flag songs. Both versions were composed with words originating from tribal members in honor of their relatives and warriors serving in World War l. Although there have always been victory songs by all tribes honoring and welcoming warriors returning from battle, I am of the belief that most of the flag songs we sing today originated 100 years ago in honor of our World War l veterans.
Each and every time I hear a flag song during the posting or retiring of colors, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in knowing I am Indian and that we have ALWAYS honored our veterans. Even during the Vietnam War era when many Americans turned their backs on veterans coming home from the war, Indian veterans were honored and welcomed home by their tribal communities. For all veterans, and especially our Indian warriors, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE and blessings to you and your family as we recognize you on this day and every day.