Some History: Native American Veterans

From the Historian, Veteran’s Affairs

Native Americans have served and died in every American war since colonial times; however, they were not legally recognized as citizens and, therefore,  deprived of government benefits for their military service.

All of that changed ninety-four years ago, on November 6, 1919, when Congress authorized citizenship for all honorably discharged Native Americans who served with U.S. military forces during World War I.  According to newspapers at that time, more than 10,000 out of roughly 33,000 American Indians eligible for military service enlisted and served in World War I. Their citizenship opened up access to Federal veterans benefits for them without any loss of tribal rights.

Not until 5 years later, in 1924, was citizenship expanded to all Native Americans born in the U.S.  Military pensions, reimbursements, and other benefits authorized for Native Americans veterans prior to 1919 were made through individual private acts of Congress or U.S. treaties.

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Links:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/timeline/650.html

http://www.choctawnation.com/history/people/code-talkers/code-talkers-of-wwi/

http://www.pbs.org/programs/wayofthewarrior/

Photo source:

Columbia University, Lindquist collection, 1933 c.

1919Nov6_PL66-75_Citizenship for Native American WW1veterans

 

 

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