Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Drum circle during the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion pow wow at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, 2004. Photo by Master Sergeant Chuck Boers (Lipan Apache/Oklahoma Cherokee, b. 1964). Gift of Sergeant Debra K. Mooney and members of the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion. D00142

Photos: Remembering the First Known Pow Wow Held in a U.S. Combat Zone by Native Americans

ICTMN Staff
3/13/13

In 2004, U.S. Army Sergeant Debra Mooney, Choctaw, and the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion staged the first pow wow held in a U.S. combat zone by Native Americans. The Native American Inter-Tribal Pow Wow was held in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

According to the National Museum of the American Indian, the two-day event, held at the Al Taqaddum Air Base near Fallujah,  featured Native regalia, dancing and singing, and traditional games and foods, including genuine frybread. Participants made their pow wow drum from a discarded 55-gallon oil barrel and canvas from a cot. The goal of the pow wow was to bring a piece of home to Native Americans serving in Iraq while sharing their cultural heritage with fellow soldiers, marines, and sailors.

American Indians have served in the U.S. military since the American revolution, before they were allowed U.S. citizenship, and by percentage they serve more than any other ethnic group. The 120th Engineer Combat Battalion has its headquarters in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, also home to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Lower: Drum, stand, and drumsticks, 2004. Metal, canvas, wood, commercially tanned leather, plastic, nylon cord, adhesive tape, metal nails. Made by members of the U.S. Army's 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and used during their Al Taqaddum Inter-Tribal Powwow, September 17–18, 2004, in Al Taqaddum, Iraq. Gift of Sergeant Debra K. Mooney and members of the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion. (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)
US Army (USA) Soldiers of Native American Indian heritage, participate in a game of Native American Indian Stick Ball during the Native American Inter-Tribal Pow Wow held at Al Taqaddum, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Pow Wow was held to honor all past, present, and future Native American Veterans, and this events marks the first time that a Pow Wow was held in a Combat Zone by Native Americans (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)
 Native American Indians came from all over Iraq to play a game of Native American Indian Stick Ball during the Native American Inter-Tribal Pow Wow that was held on Al Taqaddum near Fallujah on the 17-18th of September 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Pow Was planned from start to finish in less than five weeks, and all the items from the tomahawks to the drum was hand-made by the Native Americans in Iraq. The Pow Wow was held to honor all past, present, and future Native American Veterans, this was the first time that a Pow Wow was held in a Combat Zone by Native Americans. Photo by SFC Johancharles Van Boers (Apache/Cherokee), 55th Signal Company, Combat Camera, Fort Meade, Maryland. "Released for Public Use"
Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 120th Engineer Combat Battalion (headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma) participating in a tomahawk throwing contest. Man throws a tomahawk at a wooden post while others look on (NMAI object 265139.000) . Photo taken during the powwow events held at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq in 2004.  (National Museum of the American Indian)

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bwaikiki's picture
bwaikiki
Submitted by bwaikiki on
I am used to seeing stick ball played by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at Cherokee, NC. What's with the fish on a high stick? EBCI players try to put the small ball between leafy sticks that designate goals at each end of a field.

bwaikiki's picture
bwaikiki
Submitted by bwaikiki on
However, many congrats to our warriors in service fighting for their country and letting the world know Indians are still fighting for their country.

Sonny Skyhawk's picture
Sonny Skyhawk
Submitted by Sonny Skyhawk on
I can' t remember the exact year, but we sent a drum and pow-wow dancers to Iraq to perform for our troops and Native warriors who were serving there. Nick & Sharon Brokeshoulder and their sons and daughter, risked their lives , literally, flying by helicopter from one fire base to another, to entertain our troops. I will forever be indebted to them for doing that. They were and still are the greatest pow-wow family in my eyes. Wopila.

Carl Kurtz's picture
Carl Kurtz
Submitted by Carl Kurtz on
Ironic, I am reading "Warriors in Uniform" for a research paper I am doing. It mentions this very powwow, I missed it by 5 months. By the time we arrived at TQ we were preparing for Battle of Fallujah. Glad it happened. Sgt. Kurtz USMC Potawatomi

gsevalikova's picture
gsevalikova
Submitted by gsevalikova on
Really good to see this story here. And that you still defend the country. And never ever let anyone say that you are obsolete as a people, either. After all, you did invent democracy and the Constitution as it is known today. If you can go to full-spectrum-dominance.com, you will see an amazing amount of foriegn and American websites for news you won't see in regular media. Our fear is that while we see silly antics by mayors in San Diego, Ca and Tony Weiner, an attack like what happened in 9/11 or Boston could happen. All you guys are so needed !! Absolutely no more self destruction like we hear veterans doing, OK.
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