View Full Version : Native Americans....and WAR!

08-29-2010, 02:41 PM
War is hard on soldiers. They see death and destruction. They see comrades injured or killed—and sometimes they must kill others. Some endure the horrors of being a prisoner of war. Returning to a normal life after these kinds of experiences can be very difficult. American Indian cultures have special traditions that help their warriors return home.
According to American Indian traditional beliefs, war affects a soldier’s well being, and makes it difficult for him to live in the everyday world. For American Indians, returning home means returning to a place—a land, a community, a family, and a culture—that you are part of, a place that you have a special relationship with. Participating in war interferes with your ability to be part of this place. It upsets the balance of life. This is why American Indian cultures have special ceremonies to help bring the soldier’s life back into balance—to make it possible for the soldier to once again live in peace and to be physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally healthy.

These ceremonies are part of the traditional religions of American Indians and are still part of life today for many American Indians. The ceremonies are powerful and have helped many Code Talkers and other returning soldiers. Many American Indians are also Christian, and the prayers and services of the Christian church were also an important part of the healing after war for many Code Talkers and other American Indian veterans.

Happily may their roads back home be on the trail of pollen.
Happily may they all get back.
In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty.

I had nightmares thinking about the blood. The Japanese and the smell of the dead. Rotting Japanese and they probably got into my mind. And they had a Squaw Dance for me in Crystal. And I imagine they killed that evil spirit that was in my mind. That’s what it’s about. There’s a lot of stories there. It takes a long time to talk about it. It usually takes a medicine man to explain everything properly. But it works.—John Brown, Jr., Navajo Code Talker, National Museum of the American Indian interview, 2004

Restoring Balance the Comanche Way
Comanche tipi used for a ceremony of the Native American Church, near Lawton, Oklahoma in 1908. 4

Code Talkers and other soldiers participated in spiritual ceremonies before the war to protect them and after the war to help them recover from the effects. The Native American Church was an important form of spirituality for many Comanches and other veterans. The church combines traditional Indian ceremonies and Christianity. The ceremonies include the ingestion of peyote, a spiritual plant that is sacred to members of the Church. They last all night and are held in a tipi, where participants sing important songs and offer their prayers.

There was a peyote meeting for me at the church. I was given a piece of peyote that had been blessed to keep me from harm. I think all the others were given one too. It must have worked, for all of us came back home. Yes, I still have it.— Haddon Codynah, Comanche Code Talker (Comanche Code Talkers by William C. Meadows, 2002)

Christian services were also an important way for some Comanche Code Talkers and other veterans to offer their thanks for a safe return.
Giving Honor to Veterans
Navajo Code Talkers marching proudly in a parade in Washington, D.C., July 1983. 5

American Indian communities remember their veterans’ sacrifices forever. Veterans are always respected and honored. Sometimes they are remembered in special songs that are sung in their honor. Native people often go to veterans for advice because they have strong mental abilities as a result of their many experiences. Depending on the community, veterans are given special prominence at different kinds of tribal events. For example, at powwows veterans always lead the grand entry of dancers. They carry the American Indian Eagle Staff, the flag of the United States, their tribal flag, and other important banners. Veterans are recognized and honored on special occasions with ceremonies and dances that relate their sacrifices to the community. For example, the Comanche Gourd Dance honors veterans. Sometimes a family member or a friend might hold a special dance or ceremony to honor a veteran. These are the lasting traditions that show respect to veterans for what they have done for the people.

George Jung
08-29-2010, 02:48 PM
Is there a standard protocol/ 'deprograming' for soldiers returning from war zones?

If not (or even 'if'), - anyone ever approach the mucketymucks about incorporating NA approach to 'rehab'?

08-29-2010, 03:18 PM
Absolutely. The Native American Church, founded by Quanah Parker lays out the procedures for the Comanche. Other tribes have their own procedures, Usually involving deep counseling with the tribal medicine man. The counseling may take the form of both old and modern spiritual procedures. Somewhat akin to the Jews of old that were not permitted in camp for several days following a battle. They must cleanse themselves, and be deprogrammed.

08-29-2010, 05:05 PM
My Dad was in the 4th Marine division on Saipan, Said he was jumping from foxhole to foxhole when he jumped in one with dark skinned Marines,As The Japaneses put on Marine uniforms he was alarmed, The Marine Guard said calm down these are our Indian talkers, Very top secret .

They always had guards around them, Perhaps to Tell others there on our side, defend them or maybe even make sure they were not captured alive..

08-29-2010, 05:57 PM
You will find that most Native Americans are very adept at picking up/working with/deciphering codes of many kinds.

08-30-2010, 07:17 AM
^ heh, heh.

08-30-2010, 07:54 AM
History says tha both governments and the people are not much interrested in veterans, especially if the war wasn't won. Too politically embarrasing at least for the first 20 odd years.

John of Phoenix
08-30-2010, 03:01 PM
Those are interesting stories about the First Nations, Chuck. Very perceptive people - very much in touch with the human element.

When I came back from Vietnam there was no formal program for returning GIs. The meager program that evolved was very informal - guys would just talk over a few beers (or more) and that served as a decompression valve. As pilots, we had all endured similar experiences and we could empathize with each other and help with the recovery process. "Hey, I went through the same things - nightmares, sweats, anxiety, smells and sounds that set you off. It gets better. Hang tough. Give it time." After about six months or so most of us were back to "normal". It was a different normal, of course, but we were functional again. I always wondered about some of the guys who got out as soon as they came home and didn’t have the luxury of other GIs to talk to. That had to be especially difficult.

Returning from Iran and their Revolution was more difficult. First it was more brutal and bloody (if you can imagine that) and we weren't combatants - we were unarmed defenseless observers who devolved into refugees at the mercy of the new regime. Secondly, there wasn't even an informal support group when we got back home as Iran was experienced by relatively few GIs and even those were reassigned to scattered posts when we finally made it out. It was about a full year to get back to “normal”.

I hear there are programs for vets returning from the Middle East. I hope they’re effective because the psychological effects of urban combat are nothing I’d wish on anyone. Even with those programs, I know a couple of guys who still need some serious help.

Mercy to them all.

08-30-2010, 03:17 PM
I feel very lucky having someone from "family" to talk to .....after 'nam, then Africa, then the Middle east. I just sorta decompressed with some others in a tent, camp fire, and quiet.

Just checking mail...got an offer to work in AZ for 120K to start, healthy moving allowance, 2 year contract, 15% signing bonus. I politely declined saying I was working on wife number 6 and she was wearing me out.

John of Phoenix
08-30-2010, 03:35 PM
Just checking mail...got an offer to work in AZ for 120K to start, healthy moving allowance, 2 year contract, 15% signing bonus. I politely declined saying I was working on wife number 6 and she was wearing me out.
Nice. As they say, "Good work when you can get it."

Number 6 ?!? I only know about two so when you make it out this way, I'm buying lunch/dinner/whatever and you can tell me all about the others.

08-30-2010, 08:12 PM
Just pullin' his leg, John....in my condition dunno figger I'm ever gonna work at much anymore....not that I didn't try......you know about Comanche marriages, don'tch?