tv [untitled] May 28, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT
japanese, you didn't have to be japanese, if you had a japanese name, if you were adopted by someone with a japanese name, you were automatically taken along with them. when i got wind that they were going to do that, take the japanese boys out, i figured that that's a big mistake because i felt that 298 infantry was one of the best fighting units. we were prepared, we were trained well for defense. but as soon as we got word that happened, our morale went down. i figured that, in my particular case, might as well get out of there and i was able to being an electrician before, i went to the signal corps area and asked the man in charge if they needed an electrician, and for them to put a request from there over to the infantry, in which they did. we were trained in the military and we got to be animals. we weren't human beings. i look at it from this point of view because we talk like
animals, that was nothing at all to us. we look at another person, as long as it was an enemy death, we felt awful. we can picture ourselves as being there in that person's body. >> watch more programs from american history tv, the rest of this holiday week in prime time on c-span3. on tuesday night, we'll look back on world war ii, starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern, reporting and censorship during the war. and the experiences of associated press reporter ed kennedy. and at 9:00 p.m., hear from three original members of the band of brothers from the 101st airborne division along with two actors who appeared in the hbo miniseries american history tv in prime time, all week here on c-span3.
every weekend, 48 hours of people and events telling the american story on american history tv. get our schedules and see past programs at our websites. you can join in the conversation on social media sites. next, a discussion on the history of native american military service in the u.s. which dates back to the american revolution. the speakers include native american veterans of world war ii, korea, and iraq. this two-hour long event took place at the national museum of the american indian in washington, d.c. >> welcome to the museum of the american indian. we really are lucky to have these distinguished people here on the program. they are all very close friends of mine but joe medicine crow is a veteran of world war ii and he adopted me as his brother many
years ago. he is now 98 years old. so you really are lucky to have him here and we are lucky to have him here. so i'm going to go through a quick overview of the story of indians in the u.s. military. as jason said, you know, the indians have been in uniform fighting for us, sometimes against us, but from every war we had from the revolution on indians were on our side, certain groups, sometimes even fought each other for the u.s. government. >> can we get some lights down for the power point. >> so this picture here, i think really represents what it's all about. you hear, this is the kiowa people and there they have the war bonnet. it's the u.s. marine uniform.
this continues on to this day. indians are about the most patriotic people in the americas, they're the largest minority represented in the u.s. military. just a remarkable group. and indians look forward to serving in the military and the important thing is that their people at home support them after they come home. one of my indian friends said we feel so sorry for non-indian veterans because when they get home they are forgotten. in our communities they are always remembered. and this warrior tradition is not male only. i got this picture a couple of days ago but this is the first female indian honor guard. they are all active duty. and so they in fact they call themselves the native american women's honor guard because they want people to realize that women warriors are out there doing the same things men do. two are crow and one is navajo
and one is a cheyenne. uniform from day one. george washington recruited about 2,000 indians. in the early days they often were scouts but the war of 1812, they became, you know, enlisted soldiers at the battle of new orleans with andrew jackson we always hear all about that, we don't realize there were 1,000 choctaws fighting with him and their leader was a full general in the united states army. and as luck would have it he died on christmas eve, 1824, in washington, d.c. and andrew jackson led the funeral cortege to the congressional cemetery just a couple of miles from here, and sad to say most people don't even know it exists. and yet there are about 30 american indian leaders buried there.
they are not buried in the -- these were for the congressmen who died on duty in washington and five presidents were interred there for a while. those represented a congressman, one congressman said these things were so ugly that it added a new dimension of terror to the thought of death to be buried under one of them. but most of the congressmen buried there went home but sad to say a lot of their children are here, so like john c. calhoun's child is there, henry clay's but here is push mataha's tomb stone. talk about how interesting life is and things turn around i didn't realize this was going to happen but john emhoolah is the korean war veteran, he is kiowa. but yet, the first kiowa to come to washington, d.c. to visit the president, a couple of them, yellow wolf and lone wolf, and
this is lone wolf, this is yellow wolf. yellow wolf was elderly and was wearing a thomas jefferson peace medal like the one that john is wearing now in honor and memory of his ancestor, and so yellow wolf died of pneumonia about a week after shaking hands with abraham lincoln. so he's buried in congressional cemetery. and this smithsonian wanted that medal. they tried to take it from the dead body and the rest of the delegates said no, this was his most prized possession and it stays with him so it's still there in congressional cemetery. interestingly enough, john emhoolah's wife is descended her grandfather, was lone wolf. so here they are very happy to be back in d.c. kind of in the
footsteps of their family and their ancestors. indians fought in uniform and every war as i said, in the mexican war, they were in the different campaigns, of course the big breakthrough came in the civil war. something like 20,000 indians were in the confederate army, about 3,000 in the union army, and the leading union soldier in uniform for the indians was eli parker. and he was general grant's aide to camp. he ended up a general, he ended up a general in the civil war and in fact, when lee surrendered, he's the one who wrote the surrender documents that lee signed. one of the officers said the reason he got that assignment he had the best hand writing of all of the officers. and he ended up becoming the first indian commissioner of indian affairs, since then there
have been many, but he was the first. and the last general to surrender in the civil war was stan watty, a cherokee. he was the holdout. in fact, the biggest indian battle that took place in north america was the battle of pea ridge arkansas. 1862. there were about 15,000 indians in uniform both for the north and the south. and those indian veterans were proud. here are some confederates when they had a reunion after the civil war. so but they were proud to fight for their country, for themselves, for their people, their tribes. and of course, indians stayed in uniform throughout the 19th century. the one big battle that we all talk about is little big horn and custer's last stand f. you read your books it's the classic supposedly indians against cowboys kind of story.
but the truth is custer had 50 indian soldiers with him. most were in uniform and they were fighting their mortal enemy the sichlt -- sioux, and he had six crow scouts with him, they felt that they were such a small tribe they needed to ally themselves so they sided with the united states against the sioux. and again to show what a small world, joe medicine crow's grandfather was white man runs him, one of the six scouts with custer at little big horn. and joe personally knew four of those six scouts. so, when you meet joe and you shake his hand you're in a sense shaking hands with the 19th century and he from childhood on, he was an interpreter when military people and newspaper
people came to interview his grandpa about what happened at little big horn. that got him so interested in documenting the history of his people he ended up becoming the crow tribal historian. and here he is, at the grave of his grandfather, and of course, in a second or two you'll know that joe went on himself into world war ii and did his war deeds in the family tradition against the germans. and of course, the indians were in uniform during the apache wars. ironically, one of our heroes here is an apache, but again, some of the apaches helped fight other apaches. here you see apache scouts who helped capture geronimo, the last military engagement, basically, but they were usually using indians to fight other indians. in fact, as we see here, the last picture with geronimo, as he surrenders, 1886, and here's a sioux warrior
in uniform in 1890. but throughout the 19th century the government was reluctant to let indians be in military units except in all indian groups like scouts. as one officer said and wrote this, he said, indians would in uniform with our soldiers would ruin the moral fiber of our army. the indians don't have the patriotic instincts that an american must have. and so racism really kept indians behind. in fact, o.o. howard who founded howard university was in charge of an indian contingent and in one time in his career, and later told one of his fellow officers, he said, it was racism that kept indians behind because
of the fear of white soldiers having to take orders from an indian. and of course, now we see how silly all that was. the breakthrough for indians came in world war i as jason said, world war i broke out and thousands and thousands of indians enlisted. several tribes themselves declared war on the germans. and they just enlisted in droves of the smallest tribe in north america of maine, 500 of them enlisted and their chief. and again, they weren't citizens but they felt that their country was in danger and they went to war. now, one of the benefits of this was that most of those indians who enlisted at that time were still native speakers. it already even in world war i the germans were very good at
intercepting messages, and you know, how are we going to fool those darn germans. one fellow who had indians in his unit, talked to two choctaw boys and said would you mind sending messages in your language, and you know, maybe we can make something happen here that the germans won't understand. of course, for many of the indians the words that we use don't exist so like poison gas, you know, things like that, so they call poison gas, bad air. and they use those kinds of words to convey things but suddenly they said we've got something here so the choctaws became major code talkers about but other tribes also were code talkers, the sioux, the cheyenne, couple of the pueblo people. so you know, that conveyed on then to world war ii. we all know about the navajo code talkers but even in world war ii there were a number of other tribes that were code talkers. the irony here is in this period the government was trying very hard to eradicate indians from
being indians. they were erasing their language, trying to turn them into white people and yet the ones that could speak the language provided a great benefit. now we all know in world war ii everyone can say we know ira hayes was in world war ii. this were thousands of indian soldiers. and ira hayes was a pima, he gets all of this publicity because he helped raise the flag. one of my indian friends, i've collected these stories for 35 years, so met a lot of folks along the way. one of my indian friends said you know, we indians used to hang out together when we were in military units, when we had rest period we would chat, smoke cigarettes so. there we were -- after iwo jima and joe rosenthal the photographer said i want to
get a neat picture, and who is going to come and help me raise the flag? so this was all a posed photograph, and he said you know what, six or seven of us indians lying around and it could have been an all-indian flag raising so just think what the irony of all that. it was ira hayes who said i'll go help raise the flag and he said it was the biggest mistake he ever made because it ruined his life. three of the flag raisers were killed. one was wounded. there were six of them. truman wanted to raise money for the war and had him come home and go on these fund raising campaigns and everyone was treating him like a hero. everyone was buying him drinks. and he kept telling people i'm not a hero. all i did was pose for a picture. he said the heroes are the ones who died up there. and within a short time he became an alcoholic, and he died
in his early 30s, he was suffering from exposure one night and there he is buried at arlington cemetery, just a few hundred yards from the statue and image that he felt ruined his life. the great story in world war ii really from the indian point of view is the thunderbird division the 45th. all of our folks here except joe medicine crow were in the 45th. john emhoolah and debra mooney today is in the 45th or was at one time. this was almost an all-indian unit. mostly from oklahoma. throughout the south but thousands of indians in this group, many died on the battlefield. they did all of the hard fighting in italy, sicily, and bill mauldin, the cartoonist was in the 45th. and you know, his cartoons, willy and joe, were so popular
in world war ii. what people don't realize is that willy was an indian. it was his platoon sergeant. and he said that this racing billy choctaw was the bravest man he ever met, and of course he did use him for the humor. bill mauldin was joe the straight guy. but mauldin later wrote his memoirs and said the last time he saw racing billy he was dead on the beach at sicily. and so he then went after that some years later to a reunion of the 45th at the museum dedication in oklahoma, and as he went in the theater there was racing billy sitting there in the audience. he goes up and says hey, you're dead. he says i know, he says i read your book. so anyhow, there were only five indian who is got congressional
medals of honor in world war ii but they so many of them really did great war deeds. and here is ernie childers in the 45th. got a medal of honor. with the crow people, there was a fellow died a few years ago, andrew bird in the ground and he was just like audi murphy, he was in a battle, killed a large number of germans by himself, he ended up getting the silver star. i asked him, what were you thinking, he says i was thinking that i sure didn't want to die here because i want to be buried on my reservation so i fought like hell to keep that from happening. so when he came back to the reservation they had warrior return ceremonies and they still do it and you're supposed to tell your war deeds that you accomplished. so when the old people heard them they said we're going to give you your new name which is
kills many germans so he had that name. people thought he was blessed because of not getting hurt in this terrible battle and terrible fight so a few years later one of the crow boys was born into billings hospital and the doctor said the boy was not going to live. so his parents went to andrew bird in the ground and said you obviously are blessed by the one above, would you mind going to the hospital and praying for our child's welfare. so andrew went to the hospital and he had a little blessing ceremony and then gave the little boy his name, kills many germans. and that little boy survived, went to vietnam, and got the bronze star for saving the life of two wounded white soldiers. so that's how the indian world works. they pray and they bless each other and they convey power and strength to each other and keep on their warrior tradition.
one of those warriors is joe medicine crow. he did his war deeds against the germans. joe was raised hard to believe by three reservation indians. his grandparents were buffalo hunting indians. and they trained him to be in the white world but also to be in the indian world. they wanted him to be a warrior. when he went off to world war ii he was offered a commission because he was getting his master's degree at university of southern california. he said no, he said i can't command. i have not done any war deeds so he said it was the biggest mistake because the u.s. army doesn't work on the basis of crow tribe, so he went in a private, came out a private. but in germany, he did his four war deeds that you need. touch an enemy in battle, take a weapon away from an enemy in battle, lead a successful war
party, the patrol came back, but the key was capturing the german horse. and joe was in the army at the very end, the germans were retreating on all fronts and his unit came upon a farm house and there were 50 horses in a corral, s.s. horse, and joe got them out of the corral and got his horse. so, to this day when he goes into the pow-wow arena he carries his horse stand stick because that represents the horses he captured. of course if you paid attention president obama two years ago gave him the presidential medal of freedom not only for war deeds but joe became an educator after the war and he worked very hard to try to get non-indians and indians to talk to each other to work together. if you want to hear more about his story he has a little book i think it's for sale in the book shop called counting ku.
growing up on the res, war deeds and life afterwards. and then the korean war, indians rushed out and one of them is here on the stage, john emhoolah. and he was one of six brothers, kiowa brothers who enlisted. the seventh would have enlisted but flunked the physical. john suffered at korea, it was a tough war, bitter cold. he has some stories he probably won't tell you but the important thing is he said while i was sitting in that trench watching those chinese soldiers come charging at us, he said i kept thinking you know, here i am, fighting for america and yet i'm not allowed to practice my own religion. he said those are the days when indians couldn't even legally own eagle feathers, but the catholics could, the baptists could. he said if i make it out what
i'm going to work on is that indians can be just like everybody else. so he did. he came back and worked very hard and got the indian religious rights act passed and carter signed it. and he said you know, that shows that you go to war, it doesn't mean you have to kill someone. it means you are doing some good for someone. so that's what he felt he accomplished by helping fight. and here is carson walks over ice. he was supposed to be here but died of a heart attack about four or five months ago. carson is a vietnam veteran. he was a close friend of mine. and but his uncle was joe medicine crow. so carson went into the army, green beret, he was in the war early. i said you go in and be a warrior. absolute. i grew up listening to my
uncle's stories and i wanted to go over and fight vietcong and i wanted to get the war deeds and in fact, i can't spend -- his safe return was predicted in the sun dance, one of the dancers says we saw carson come home and he was standing right in the entrance of the sundance arena but he had a cane. sure enough, he did get shot when he helicoptered late in the war but he got back. but boy, he said i tried like everything to get one of -- a horse. he said but the vietcong didn't have horses. so he did all of this other war deed, touched the enemies. he said you got to get a gun from an enemy, touch a living enemy. i was in the bush and this vietcong came rushing past me. i grabbed him and took his gun and i said go, and he ran like hell. and he said my buddies saw me
and said why didn't you shoot him? he said, i did it for a certain reason and the important thing is you saw it. and of course that's counting kua. it's not about killing someone, it's touching someone. as luck would have it he was on the ho chi minh trail and watching because the vietnamese were bringing supplies in on elephants. he says here comes a troupe of elephants. he said i shot them out. he says i was a good shot. i got that guy off the elephant and the elephant started running and he had a chain dragging so i grabbed that chain and he said herman, i want you to know that elephant stopped when it wanted to. i had no hand in stopping that elephant but i hung on, he drag
immediate through the brush, but finally he stopped and i tied that chain around a tree and there were four elephants tied together. i went home after the war and said here are my war deeds. and they said tough luck, elephants aren't horses. so he could not become a war chief. but joe still is the last plains war chief because he did his horses and they gave him that honor. here is carson at a pow-wow fighting but the girls are dressed as vietcong wearing war bonnets. to bring it up to date, to this day indians are still honoring veterans, working with the veterans. i was on the cheyenne reservation when this boy came home from desert storm, his name was ron bigback, and at the time i was writing the biography ben nighthorse campbell, he suz a cheyenne, and so he want ed me to always hang out with him so. ron had been in iraq and he actually came back with a complete iraqi uniform, but when he was over there he had a dream and he said the dream was that i
was on a beautiful indian pony and it was crossing a stream and as i was going across the stream snakes came, bit the horse, the horse was strong, made it to the other side and died but i lived. he wrote that in a letter to his father. what do you think that means. his father went to a fellow on the reservation, tom rock road who is a vietnam veteran but a spiritual leader. he said he's been assailed by evil spirits so when he comes home we have to have a cleansing ceremony to rid the spirits. so they did have that ceremony. and then at the end of the ceremony they put the iraqi uniform on the ground and all of the people there had got sticks to hit the stick, hit the uniforms like striking the enemy as the continuation of the old ceremony. and then they had the blessing ceremony and there is tom rockroads holding a fake scalp up in the air, in the old days they would do this.
he then was cleansed and they then gave him a new indian name, his new indian name is charging eagle. so after the event, then they had a big give away, senator campbell is right here. and that's austin two moon you know your custer's last stand story his grandfather was chief two moons at little big horn. so, anyhow, after the event, we had to visit folks and stayed at an indian house, i said you miss big ceremony. she said yeah, too bad, i knew they were doing it. renewing the old ceremonies. this is the first time we've done it since world war ii but you should have been here in world war ii. all of those ladies dancing with the scalps, it was something to see. and we're glad to see this is coming back. now that brings us up to chuck boers. he had a long military career, he fought in desert storm and