The Commemoration of D-Day Forgot One War Veterans' Group: Indians

Roundup: Talking About History

David Yeagley, adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies, in (June 1, 2004):

I’m still an American Indian patriot. Even after watching CNN’s 90 minute program featuring the May 29 dedications of the new National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., I still love this country, more than ever.

No, I didn’t hear one mention of the American Indian. No one acknowledged themore than 190,000 living American Indian veterans, who represent nearly one out of every ten Indians. I didn’t hear any praise for the unique contribution Indians have made in all war efforts of the twentieth century.

I heard instead repeated praise of black, Hispanic, and Japanese Americans and their contributions to the war effort, and American society in general.

Indeed, the featured musical moment of the program, was given to a black female, Denyse Graves, mezzo soprano opera singer. They could have chosen Barbara McAllister, a tall Cherokee mezzo, who is older but well-known in New York opera circles.

Barry Black, the black chaplain of the U.S. Senate, gave the benediction. Apparently there no longer any living descendents of the “white” Sons of the Revolution who can pray; no, Black’s skin gave him special authority. Barry Black didn’t mention the name Jesus Christ. Would that name have blurred his image?

After the program, Paula Zahn interviewed Martha S. Putney, a black female historian. Putney talked about black female contributions to the war effort. Paula apparently didn’t know Indian women veterans exist.

One got the impression that blacks now constitute the core definition of what it means to be an American. Somehow, they have become the quintessential carrier of American values. The memorial service was like an ethnic pride parade in Washington, another Million Man March.

But what is the image of blacks – at least as expressed by so-called black “leaders” – in this country? The demagogues proclaim the message: “America wronged me. You need to make it right. You need to put me on a pedestal, along with the greatest heroes of ‘white’ American history.” The image of blacks is a complaint, a cry for “equality.” It is a plea for acceptance, and an expression of utter dependency.

This isn’t patriotism.

So, what is the Indian image? Before white liberals distorted it into another version of “I’ve been wronged” and added new images of casino corruption, vice, and greed, the Indian image used to be about bravery, self-sacrifice, and independence. The great Indian warrior never needed “equality,” applause or acceptance.

Maybe CNN still regards the Indian like that; they certainly offered none.

After the CNN program, I realized, as never before, the American Indian is not part of the modern media image of America. The National WWII Memorial program proved that. The Indian warrior image is out – even at such moment, at such a memorial service for soldiers. Blacks, “Hispanics,” and Japanese are America’s new warriors now; the media says so.

For me to call myself an American Indian patriot is a real stretch at times like this. How can I love the country so much, when it insults me in return, and instead honors people who never won anything in battle against the American Indian?

It’s simple: America is the most grand and beautiful country in the world – and it’s built on Indian land. I instinctively claim America as my own. Never mind media images: the foreigner’s society that developed here is like an adopted son, that’s all. He washed ashore here as a lost infant. We Indians raised him. He grew into the mightiest of the earth. As an Indian, can’t I be proud?

But for me to love America, I must overlook the Indian holocaust. I must “wink” at the horrors of yesterday. To have a positive outlook on life, I must immediately forgive my enemies today. This I must do, like no other race in America must do. American Indians were destroyed on our own land, in our own home. More is required of us, spiritually, than of any other people.

Indians must be superior. Just the basic feeling of loving America requires a miraculous transcendence of other races. If we do not achieve this, we consign ourselves to abject tragedy and disquietude. We are Ghost Dancers, forever.

Perhaps I should be grateful that CNN and the program planners did not include the Indian. That doesn’t just mean that Indians are excluded, or that America simply can’t manage its collective guilt toward the Indian. It might mean that America has an unspoken feeling that Indians really are superior. We are on a higher plane. We are unmentioned because we are not seen in the nether regions where the media dwell.

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Vernon Clayson - 6/10/2004

I know this is beating a dead horse but in the media's eye the Indian is of no more consequence than the average white man, think of it, the Indian and the white man finally lumped together. I saw an instance this morning in the coverage of the Reagan viewing at the Rotunda of the Capitol that is a prime example. An Indian in full regalia and brandishing an eagle feather walked by the flag covered casket and the announcer said "There's an-an-
an-other person in the long line of viewers. He could, or would, not say "Indian", however, had it been any other race, except a white man, of course, he would have gone into paroxysms of praise on how beloved Reagan was by that particular race or culture. Indians are like non-complaining white people, invisible to the media and

Vernon Clayson - 6/5/2004

Prof. Yeagley, Would you have the Indian seek attention, and riches, in the manner of the Jesse Jacksons, the Louis Farrakans and the Al Sharptons, to say nothing of the Bill Clintons, the Dick Cheneys, even the Billy Grahams and most Hollywood actors. Is it not better that the Indian people continue as dignified and thoughtful individuals in the moral majority, those who live without casting themselves, ourselves, as victims of this or that prejudice. Do not wait for the media to single out an Indian for notice, it is enough to know that they are included in the thousands of otherwise unnoticed individual Americans, some perhaps having an axe to grind, conduct themselves honorably and with dignity and with lattle fanfare. A good example is Lori Piestewa,a Hopi, and a soldier, lost in combat in Iraq. You should notice that no tall tales, i.e., exagerated claims, were made about her experience and death. I'm sure her family and her people would have had it no other way. Would you really want someone like Jackson, Farrakan or Sharpton droning on endlessly and self-righteously about the injustice of it all?