I think it's futile to expect descendants of warrior cultures to be terribly picky about whether to join when the people around them are going to war. There are probably as many abstract motivations as there are soldiers, without regard to ethnicity or citizenship, but most of the WWII American Indian vets I have interviewed told me directly that they felt their communities were personally threatened by the Axis Powers. If you wish, you may consider that a victory of Allied propaganda, but there are remarks about American Indians in Mein Kampf that suggest our fathers and grandfathers were not misled. A North America dominated by the Axis Powers would not have gone well for us. Our colonial wars are disgraceful, but not just for Indian soldiers. This gets back to the discussion about whether Indians should grasp what power they have to determine US policy and try to turn it or whether the act of voting or holding state/federal office is a betrayal of tribal sovereignty. If it is, then so is allowing oneself to be drafted. Draft resistance becomes a moral duty. Enlisting, on the other hand, is a personal choice. I enlisted in the US armed forces but suppose I enlisted in the French Foreign Legion? That's my choice. We admire warriors or we don't. We separate the matter of their courage from the cause for which they fought or we don't. I'm not clear these issues separate Indians from other humans, except that we all have tribal traditions regarding the status of warriors and those traditions will not disappear quickly, if ever.
Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 16:03