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COMMUNITY, FAMILY and SPIRITUALITY:
VETERANS

Native American people who served in the United States armed services are greatly honored in the American Indian community. The translation for soldier, warrior, protector and helper are all the same word. In Dakota that word is Akicita and in Ojibwe it is Ogichida.

As Ed Godfrey, a Dakota/Lakota veteran explains, "It was always the warrior who was first in defending Mother Earth. It was his duty to be first. It is a part of traditional values, a part of protecting against any outside invasion that would endanger the people, our people and the land."

It is a remarkable fact that Indian people served the United States long before they were even given United States citizenship. In fact, between 1917 and 1918, over 10,000 American Indian people enlisted into the armed services to serve in World War I. Although this was the greatest number of enlisted peoples from any one non-anglo culture, citizenship (with the right to vote) for Native Americans was not granted until 1924.

The warrior is seen as having an important and ongoing role. As Chief Ernest Wabasha, hereditary chief of the Dakota people, explains. "Sometime in the future we believe that we will be back to protect the environment and everything else."