The Black Hills State University Center for American Indian Studies (CAIS) has been awarded a South Dakota Humanities Council Grant for $3,250 to fund a symposium titled “The RED, in the Red, White and Blue: Indians in the Armed Forces.” The symposium will be held in conjunction with the university’s annual Indian Awareness Week, April 16-22.

Several speakers are planned for the symposium, including former U.S. Marine fighter pilot Ed McGaa, Oglala, who flew 110 combat missions in Vietnam, and Marcella LeBeau, Cheyenne River, an internationally decorated World War II nurse. John Day, fine arts director at USD, will give a presentation on the works of Yanktonai artist Oscar Howe and discuss the military background of this world-renowned artist. A panel discussion involving American Indian veterans from different wars will also be held during the week.

The contribution and commitment of American Indian peoples to the United States military is unparalleled as documented in Native Americans in the Twentieth Century and We Are Still Here: American Indians in the Twentieth Century. In World War II alone, more Native Americans served at home and abroad and further dedicated more resources and money as compared by percentage to any other ethnic or culture group in the country. This tradition can be traced to events long before World War I through the present Iraq War. In fact, the first American service woman to fall in Iraq was an enrolled member of a Tribal Nation. Recent films like Code Talkers, Flags of Our Fathers, and The Way of the Warrior, have begun to represent and highlight this contribution for mainstream society.

“Many reasons can be found for native military service, which are common to different generations of Indian soldiers,” said John Glover, director of CAIS, “They include the protection of their local community from foreign threats, maintenance of warrior traditions among some Nations, and the economic and social opportunities the military can provide.”

A complete schedule of events for Indian Awareness Week at BHSU is currently being finalized. For more information call 642-6578.