MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- American Indians and Alaskan Natives have served with distinction in this country's military for more than 200 years.
This year, November will mark Camp Lejeune’s observance of National Native American Indian Heritage Month, and the theme for this year's observance is "A Warrior's Tradition: Contributing to Our Nation's Freedom".
“We are especially grateful for the Native Americans who have served and continue to serve in our nation's military,” said President George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. “These brave individuals have risked their lives to protect our citizens, defend our democracy, and spread the blessings of liberty to people around the world,”
It is important to remember these great people’s sacrifices because more than half of the American-Indian and Alaskan-Native citizens have served in the armed forces, said, Staff Sgt. Tanya M. Queiro, the equal opportunity advisor for Marine Corps Installations East.
Originally serving as scouts in the 18th century, American Indian and Alaskan Natives were renowned for their skill of tracking the enemy and during the Civil War, American Indians were called to arms as auxiliary troops.
In 1866, the army formally established the Indian scouts, who were employed widely in various battles until their deactivation in 1947.
Two notable examples of American Indians, who left an indelible mark on the Marine Corps to help secure the freedom of this great nation were the code talkers of World War II and Cpl. Ira Hayes from the flag raising on Iwo Jima, according to Marine Corps Administrative Message 493/06.
As the Global War on Terrorism continues, American Indian representation in the Marine Corps is greater than in the United States population, said Queiro. Whereas American Indians account for more than one percent of the total population, they make up approximately two percent of the active Marine Corps today.
“The American Indians representation in the Marines Corps is just another example of how diverse and unique our corps is,” said Queiro.
Marines of American Indian descent have made great impacts on the Marine Corps during the past year.
Demonstrating their conspicuous gallantry in support of the GWOT people of American Indians and Alaskan Natives decent have received four bronze stars with the combat distinguishing device, one Silver Star and a Navy Cross, according to the MARADMIN 493/06.
“The distinctions these Marines received speak for American Indians and Alaskan Natives honor, courage, esprit de corps and true American spirit,” concluded Queiro.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.