Promoting Cultural Awareness: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

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November marked the 21st anniversary of the observance of American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. President George H.W. Bush made the proclamation in 1990 and declared 1992 as the "Year of the American Indian" by way of congressional legislation.

The U.S. Military has a long and storied tradition of extraordinary contributions from American Indians and Alaska Natives. From the Revolutionary War where Gen. George Washington enlisted the skills of American Indians to liberate the colonies, to the War of 1812 where Native Americans served on state and continental ships, Native Americans have added to the strong foundation we enjoy today. Their excellence continued in World Wars I and II where nearly 35,000 American Indians fought for their country.

The most famous of these were the Navajo Code Talkers who used their native language to communicate along the front lines. This led to Maj. Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, saying, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima."...

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