Native American History Month

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BAGHDAD – The contributions of Native Americans to American history, as well as the military, are quintessentially, well, American.

November marks Native American History Month and is intended to celebrate and commemorate the rich culture of the various Indian nations, said Sgt. 1st Class Tamatha Denton, from New York.

"The theme for this year is 'Understanding American Indian Heritage Now and Then,'" she said. "We're touching on military service all the way back from the Revolutionary War to the global war on terrorism."

This year observance for Multi-National Division Baghdad Soldiers, here, will have storytellers relating the history of Native American military service as well as traditional foods. Stories will include the famous code talkers of World War II, whose secret code, transmitted in the Navajo language, confounded the Japanese and was never decoded. Also touched upon will be more modern heroes such as Spc. Lori Piestewa, who was the first Native American woman to die in combat when her convoy came under attack outside Nasiriyah during the opening month of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

The participation of Native Americans in the U.S. military is long and storied, with 25 Medal of Honor winners, Denton explained.

"Their involvement in U.S. military service is higher per capita than any other ethnic group in the United States," she said. "That speaks volumes."

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Vernon Clayson - 11/18/2009

Lori Piestewa was not the first Indian female to die in combat, it would be better said that she was the first to die in the present war. Thousands of Indian females died during the so-called Indian wars of the 18th and 19th century, some as combatants and some as victims, along with their children, of attacks by the US Army. Indians aren't newcomers to the tragedies of war. It says something for their character that they are still, in a way, protecting their land and country.