Snapshots

U.S. Military History, Pow Wow Flags, Freedom and Fears – ICTMN.com

“What’s wrong with this picture?” I asked: A pow wow grand entry, the Eagle Staff closely followed by the U.S. stars and stripes and the POW/MIA flag.

What does the U.S., flag mean at an Indian pow wow? How is it that warriors who defend Indian territory are mixed up with soldiers who fight for the United States? I remember one pow wow where the M.C. listed great warriors of the past who “fought for America.” He included Crazy Horse and Geronimo!

Probably everyone knows Geronimo and Crazy Horse did not fight for America, but against American troops, just like Tecumseh, Pontiac, and many others. The M.C. was mixed up. But is it also mixed up to commemorate modern-day Indian soldiers as Indian warriors?

The answer I sometimes hear is that Indian warriorhood includes any kind of war, and since Indians are incorporated into the United States, when they fight in the U.S. military, they fight for Indian nations, too.

There are at least two major problems with this answer. First, as Crazy Horse, Tecumseh and others learned the hard way, a soldier doesn’t fight like an Indian warrior. The second problem has to do with colonialism; we’ll get to that.

I’m not the only one looking at the difference between “warriors” and “soldiers.” In 2003, a U.S. Army Task Force recommended changes in the Soldier’s Creed to incorporate a “warrior ethos.” This has led to some soul-searching among soldiers, but is firmly ensconced in military policy.

So there are reciprocal moves happening: Pow wows adopting the U.S. flag to honor Indian soldiers, and the U.S. Army adopting the warrior ethos to enhance the Soldier’s Creed. Maybe I should let my question go, but it still persists: the reciprocal moves prove there is a difference between warriors and soldiers.

One difference was noticed again and again in the Indian wars of the 19th century: warriors fight for individual honor while soldiers fight for unit effectiveness. This distinction was pointed out in a thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, “Contrasts Between American and Afghan Warriors, a Comparison Between Two Martial Cultures,” a study of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The author, Major Michael Willis, says of the “tribal fighters” that they see “more glory in close combat than in passively submitting to bombardment. This marks a departure from the western tradition of standing fast in the face of fire.”

Major Willis compares tribal fighters with early American colonial militia, writing, “These were [also] men who used their natural fighting skills to defend their communities with limited conventional military structure. They liked to do things ‘their way.’” This “doing things their way” was the core irritant to the British in the Revolutionary War and the core criticism made by American officers against their Indian warrior allies. Strange bedfellows. Does it mean my question is answered: that Indian warriors and American soldiers really are on the same page? Hardly.

Entire Article Here: U.S. Military History, Pow Wow Flags, Freedom and Fears – ICTMN.com.

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