Native American Indians Enlist in the Military and Serve During World War I (1917-1918)
America entered World War I in April, 1917. An article from The Argus-Leader (June 20, 1943, Sioux Falls, SD) stated, “The spirit and patriotism of the American Indian has been thoroughly exemplified in World War I.” The reporter must have interviewed a Sioux man named Rev. Ben Brave, and wrote
“…age 52, Mr. Brave made application for service in World War I. He received a complimentary letter from President Wilson telling him his application had been turned over to the war department. He was notified he was too old. He also tried to get into this war as chaplain. He was given the same answer.”
An article from The Gettysburg Times dated April 20, 1917 reported that Senator Boise Penrose of PA proposed that ten or more regiments of Indian cavalry be made an integral part of the military forces of the United States…and be known as the North American Indian Cavalry. He also proposed that all Indians who enlisted in the service be made citizens.
Another newspaper article titled “Played Joke on the Huns” describes how “Sioux Indians had fun for three days talking over a tapped wire.” (Gettysburg, PA, April 12, 1919)
Native American Indian men were military warriors who enlisted and fought in World War I before the Indian Citizenship Act passed in 1924!
Here is a list of resources to further explore this fact:
- The Gettysburg Times newspaper article click here.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch article click here.
- “Played Joke on the Huns” article click here.
- Congress Granted Citizenship to All Native Americans Born in the U.S. website click here.
- Choctaw Code Talkers video click here.
- World War I and American Indians website click here.
- History Channel’s World War I’s Native American Code Talkers click here.
I’m sure there are many stories of Native American men who tried to enlist and were turned down. Please leave a comment and tell their story!
Check out my book Sioux Code Talkers of World War II is coming March 1, 2017, published by Pelican Publishing. Click here for more details.