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Native Americans in WWII

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Melissa McLevain

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Native Americans in WWII

Native Americans in World War II Why is this SO impressive? Yet Native Americans were still eager to participate in World War II on behalf of the United States... Context for WWII: Dates: 1939 - 1945
United States becomes involved when Japanese soldiers attack Pearl Harbor in December of 1941
Native American participation in the war was extremely high
Around 44,000 Native Americans served in WWII, with over half of them voluntarily enlisting The American government had NOT been very kind to Native Americans in the past... Native Americans sympathized with American defense of their homeland after Pearl Harbor, because they understood, first-hand, what it was like to have their rights and land stripped away from them. While some Native Americans were drafted into the war, more than half voluntarily enlisted while many others obtained wartime jobs on the home front. 1830: Indian Removal Act - Indians were forced to relocate from all eastern territories west of the Mississippi river under President Andrew Jackson
1887: (Daves) General Allotment Act - American Government stripped away land rights of Native Americans so that they could no longer live communally
1924: Indian Citizenship Act - The Government began to grant civil and political rights to Native Americans
1934: Indian Reorganization Act - "Indian New Deal" secured rights to Native Americans Notable Native Americans from World War II: Members of the 45th Infantry Division - The "Thunderbirds" - who were awarded prestigious Medals of Honor in WWII: Lt. Ernest Childers (Creek)
Lt. Jack Montgomery (Cherokee)
Lt. Van Barfoot (Choctaw) How did Native American participation in WWII contribute to the stereotype of Indigenous people as "Noble Savages"? Is Tayo representative of a "Noble Savage" and is this a positive or negative stereotype in Ceremony? Tayo, along with Rocky, enlists in the Army to serve his country in WWII
Throughout his time in Japan, Tayo experiences much death and destruction
Upon his return to his home, Tayo struggles to assimilate back into "normal" Laguna life and becomes physically ill when thinking about his wartime experiences
Is this form of PTSD due to Tayo's actual experience in the war or the fact that Tayo, who is a "half-breed," has never felt that he truly belonged in society? Native American Community and Need for Belonging As represented through Ceremony and other works we have read so far this semester, COMMUNITY is very highly valued in Native American cultures.
Need for belonging as a reason for widespread Native American participation in WWII, despite the fact that violence was not at all a staple of Native American culture Native American Service: Mutually Beneficial While America benefited from the manpower of Native American soldiers... Native Americans benefited from the economic relief as well as the sense of community and inclusion that they felt through joining together to fight with Americans for a common cause.
In some cases, certain Native American tribes even participated in remedial English classes so that they could become proficient enough in English to participate in American war efforts. Even though... Americans in general had previously been extremely disrespectful of Native American culture and practices, Native Americans still remained loyal to America throughout World War II. "The Navajo and other tribes were so eager to go to war, that they stood for hours in bad weather to sign their draft cards, while others carried their own riffles so they would be ready for battle right away." Native American need for Economic Relief Resulting from the poor treatment they received from the American Government throughout history, the onset of WWII found many Native American societies in a deplorable state. Through their service, Native Americans garnered financial compensation which they used to help boost their struggling economy. Further motivation... Native Americans felt a personal duty to protect their native homeland. Not "America," as white invaders first called it, but rather, Turtle Island. Native Americans were fighting not for Uncle Sam, but for their own cultural values and traditions as embedded in such characters as Napi and Thought Woman. Tradition of the Native American Warrior In many Native American cultures, though futile violence was not endorsed, spiritual meaning lied within one's role as a tribal warrior. These tribal warriors displayed such characteristics as: courage, fortitude, generosity and wisdom.
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