University of Kansas
Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez

In Their Words: Notable Quotes by and About Native Veterans

ICTMN Staff
5/27/13

On Memorial Day 2013 we take a look back at some historic quotes by and about Native American service members and veterans, beginning with George Washington and closing with Chester Nez. If you have quotes, stories, photos or information about events related to veterans, please share with ICTMN at editor@ictmn.com for possible publication.

 

I think they [Indians] can be made of excellent use, as scouts and light troops. --Gen. George Washington, 1778

 

We honor our veterans for their bravery and because by seeing death on the battlefield, they truly know the greatness of life. --Winnebago Elder

 

The real secret which makes the Indian such an outstanding soldier is his enthusiasm for the fight. --U.S. Army Major, 1912

 

My people honored me as a warrior. We had a feast and my parents and grandparents thanked everyone who prayed for my safe return. We had a "special" [dance] and I remembered as we circled the drum, I got a feeling of pride. I felt good inside because that's the way the Kiowa people tell you that you've done well. --Kiowa Vietnam Veteran

After I got home, my uncles sat me down and had me tell them what it [the war] was all about. One of them had been in the service in World War II and knew what war was like. We talked about what went on over there, about killing and the waste, and one of my uncles said that God's laws are against war. They never talked about those kinds of things with me before. --Cherokee Vietnam Veteran

 

When I went to Germany, I never thought about war honors, or the four "coups" which an old-time Crow warrior had to earn in battle....But afterwards, when I came back and went through this telling of war deeds ceremony... lo and behold I [had] completed the four requirements to become a chief. --Crow World War II Veteran

 

My platoon commander always sent me out on patrols. He. . . probably thought that I could track down the enemy. I don't know for sure, but I guess he figured that Indians were warriors and hunters by nature. --Sac & Fox/Creek Korean War Veteran

 

There was a camaraderie [in the Air Force] that transcends ethnicity when you serve your country overseas in wartime. --Former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Cheyenne, Korean War Veteran

Thanks to my military service [in the Navy], I now have friends in 500 tribes. --Lakota Korean War Veteran

 

"I never thought of serving as a conflict of interest, that would have been a luxury!  I just needed something to survive.  Initial needs have to be met first, and then later things like patriotism come in."  --Donna Loring, Penobscot Indian Nation, Vietnam Veteran

 

"My wartime experiences developing a code that utilized the Navajo language taught how important our Navajo culture is to our country. For me that is the central lesson: that diverse cultures can make a country richer and stronger." --Chester Nez, the last surviving member of the Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers

 

Sources: "Native Americans and the U.S. Military," History.navy.mil/faqs/faq61-1.htm; Abbe Museum; The Veterans Site; Code Talker

 

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Jack McNeel's picture
Jack McNeel
Submitted by Jack McNeel on
The veteran you quote but don't identify (Crow World War II Veteran) was Dr. Joe Medicine Crow. I had a chance to talk with him a few times and did a story or two about him for ICT.
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