Veterans Day is approaching and is a special time to pay tribute to veterans of all wars. These men and women have sacrificed much for the freedoms we all enjoy and for which we are thankful. However, the results of war are often devastating for veterans, their families and eventually we all feel the effects. Many veterans experience physical and psychological trauma which can have an enormous effect on those around them. Many are unemployed, economically depressed, experience added family problems, and may lead to suicide in some cases.
Before they were even granted U.S. citizenship, thousands of Native Americans volunteered and served in the first World War and over 40,000 served in World War II despite their own lack of freedom here in their own country. For many Native Americans, becoming part of the military was an opportunity to prove patriotism, provide employment, to see the world and as a rite of passage. Despite the inner conflict of assisting an institution that marginalized, isolated and fought against them, many Native Americans wanted to assist in protecting their country. In fact Native Americans have the largest per capita enlistment of any ethnic or racial group.
The trauma of war on Native Americans and many rural veterans can be compounded by a number of factors including lack of transportation and other transportation factors, lack of services, unemployment, cultural barriers, awareness, and lower incomes. Many have found help and support though traditional healing and opportunities provided such as the sharing of stories.
Several films have been produced that record the stories of Native American veterans allowing others to hear their voices. Here are previews about three such films.
The National Museum of the American Indian seeks to provide a forum for tribes to tell their veteran stories in the Native American Veterans’ Storytelling Project. They have developed a model for this project for others to follow in hopes of preserving these stories for future generations. To learn more about this project and seek participation watch this informational video. (more…)