Lara J. Arrowchis
At 25, David Arrowchis, a Northern Ute, graduated from The United States Military Academy at West Point.

From Videogames to Reality: Northern Ute Graduates from West Point

Simon Moya-Smith

He’d sit there as a kid, eyeing the TV, and once in a while, a U.S. Army commercial would zip across the screen. The gallantry, he thought. The discipline. The camaraderie.

A little later, he’d turn on a videogame—one with soldiers and high-stakes missions. Transported, David Arrowchis decided—at some point between the Army ads and the videogame—he wanted to be a soldier and serve his country.

Now 25, Arrowchis, a Northern Ute, is a recent graduate of The United States Military Academy at West Point, commonly known to the everyday American as “West Point.”

“Ever since I was young I always looked up to soldiers,” he said. “And whenever the Army ads were on TV I was like, ‘Wow, that was cool.’”

Yet it wasn’t just commercials and videogames that spurred his interest to join the military. Arrowchis said it was also his grandmother, Glenda Arrowchis, on the Ute Reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah who instilled in him various life lessons and values.

“My grandma always taught me to be observant of my surroundings and to be conservative with my resources, time management—I use those things all time,” he said.

Arrowchis was also inspired by his time spent as a boy scout where he learned about the “value of service,” he added. The Orange County, California-native said he felt he needed to serve his country for a spell, if not make a career out of it.

Arrowchis, who graduated with the First Regiment, First Battalion Company C, as a Second Lieutenant with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and was a participant of the Native American Heritage Forum at West Point, said, as a kid, he aspired to fly helicopters, but then realized he’d have to join the Air Force to do that, he said.

“Apparently [the] Air Force does that, but the Air Force didn’t really appeal to me,” the soldier said. Though he, himself, did not want to be an Airman, Arrowchis does encourage Native Americans to join both the military and attend college.

“[It helps with] opening up their possibilities—not limiting themselves to what they just see around them. Gaining interaction with other students, seeing what kind of lifestyle they come from and then give them ideas for where they want to take their lives that they might not have had before,” he said.

In a country with a long-stretching history of hostility and conflict between the United States and Native American nations, Arrowchis said Native American people join the military today because they maintain the desire to serve their people.

“I know other Native Americans join for [value of service]; they join for economical reasons; they join for any number of reasons,” he said. “You form a bond.”

Arrowchis was one of a graduating class of 1,063 students. The keynote speaker for his May 28 graduation ceremony was President Barack Obama. Arrowchis’ family traveled to the campus in Orange County, New York, from both California and Utah to witness his graduation.

President Obama shook the hand of every gradate, including Arrowchis’.

Next up, Arrowchis is off to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, for basic officer training and field artillery.

Arrowchis plans to finish his five-year active duty service and maybe spend an additional three years serving in the Army before he decides what he plans to do with the rest of his life.

“From there, it’ll depend on how it affects my family, how I like it, if I’m good at it, and we’ll see from there if I choose to stay in or get out and join the private sector,” he said.

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