Native Americans have played an active role in the military of the United States for over 200 years. From Valley Forge in the mid-1770s, to the war in Iraq, American Indians have proudly served their country. American Indians are known as strong warriors and for dedication to the defense of their country. In fact, Native Americans have served in the U.S. Armed Forces at the highest percentage of any ethnic group in the United States and hold the distinction of being the most decorated group for outstanding service in war in U.S. history.
In World War I, an estimated 12,000 American Indians served in the United States Armed Forces. This is particularly interesting given that citizenship for Native Americans was not provided until 1924 when the U.S. Congress passed the Snyder Act, which admitted all Native Americans born in the U.S. to full U.S. Citizenship. During World War II, more than 44,000 American Indians actively served in the U.S. military. Another 40,000 American Indians left the reservations and joined the war effort by going to work in various war industries.
Another example of the loyalty and courage of American Indians occurred during the Vietnam War. Of the 42,000 American Indians who fought in that war, more than 37,000 were volunteers. During the Persian Gulf War, approximately one of every three Marines was of American Indian descent.
This same allegiance of loyalty to country is present among the members of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Throughout the history of wars and conflicts of the United States, the Cow Creeks have been well represented by their Tribal Veterans.