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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Arena > Ask PowWows.com Native American soldiers in WWI Native American soldiers in WWI

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Old 03-14-2017, 01:10 AM   #1
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Native American soldiers in WWI

I happened across a Smithsonian channel show called Americans Underground Secret City of WWI. Mostly it's about an underground quarry used as a bunker by American troops and a really interesting story in its own right, but they find places where the soldiers carved things into the stone walls. Some look like Native American themes and sure enough there were Passamaquody (probably spelling that wrong) tribal members who volunteered to go to war and they ended up in France. So there's a story of how that happened and what the carvings are....They also have a pretty cool follow up with current members of the tribe, many of whom are also vets.

Anyway, I thought it was amazing to think of these young men living in a stone bunker during a world war, making their mark there in the walls, and it's still there. To add a twist, they couldn't even vote in America at the time.

VIDEO: What Do Native American Carvings in French WWI Quarries Mean? from Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI | Smithsonian Channel
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Old 03-14-2017, 12:48 PM   #2
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I happened across a Smithsonian channel show called Americans Underground Secret City of WWI. Mostly it's about an underground quarry used as a bunker by American troops and a really interesting story in its own right, but they find places where the soldiers carved things into the stone walls. Some look like Native American themes and sure enough there were Passamaquody (probably spelling that wrong) tribal members who volunteered to go to war and they ended up in France. So there's a story of how that happened and what the carvings are....They also have a pretty cool follow up with current members of the tribe, many of whom are also vets.

Anyway, I thought it was amazing to think of these young men living in a stone bunker during a world war, making their mark there in the walls, and it's still there. To add a twist, they couldn't even vote in America at the time.

VIDEO: What Do Native American Carvings in French WWI Quarries Mean? from Americans Underground: Secret City of WWI | Smithsonian Channel
Recently some increased interest in the role that Native Soldiers played in WW1 regarding Code Talking.
A little known fact that a number of Troops of various Tribes took part, the most documented were Chickasaws, Choctaws and to a smaller extent Cherokees and Creeks.
I have three ancestors that took part in the war my Grandpa, Great Uncle and a Cousin two made it back one lost his life there and was brought back and buried with full honors.
Native involvement with American troops go back before this was a Country on both sides of the line...
And further back with the British for we were allies with them thru the 1st big war.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
Recently some increased interest in the role that Native Soldiers played in WW1 regarding Code Talking.
A little known fact that a number of Troops of various Tribes took part, the most documented were Chickasaws, Choctaws and to a smaller extent Cherokees and Creeks.
I have three ancestors that took part in the war my Grandpa, Great Uncle and a Cousin two made it back one lost his life there and was brought back and buried with full honors.
Native involvement with American troops go back before this was a Country on both sides of the line...
And further back with the British for we were allies with them thru the 1st big war.
Thanks @Josiah for bringing up the fact that many tribal languages were used for Code Talking. I think because of the movie & the publicity, many people believe it was only the Navajo & only in WWII when this happened. (At least that's what I mistakenly thought for a long time, too!)

So I'm glad that they finally publicly acknowledged that this started in WWI & they recognized all the tribes who participated in Code Talking. According to the National Archives, the DOD & the US Mint, tribal members from the Cheyenne, Comanche, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Osage, Pawnee, Ponca & Sioux (Yankton, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Santee, Standing Rock) were also WWI Code Talkers in addition to the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, & Creeks whom you mentioned.

Here's the US Mint link to all the 33 Tribes who were recognized by Congress in The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008:
https://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs...on=codeTalkers
I think it's great that each Tribe got to design their own medal!

Personally, I was really surprised to find out that there were so many tribes who had Code Talkers & that the Menominee were among them for WWII. This was a tight-lipped secret that our Vets kept & took with them to the Spirit World...yet another sacrifice they made for this country.

It's sad to me that we couldn't honor them for what they did while they were still here. Though 2 yrs. ago at our annual summer powwow, our tribe & THPO honored all of them and their families in a special ceremony.
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Old 03-19-2017, 03:31 PM   #4
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Wow, I didn't know that about the other tribes and the code talking, or that it was WWI also. Pretty cool stuff. Thanks for replies and information!
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:37 PM   #5
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Choctaw Joseph Oklahombi

The Native American Sargent York you've never heard of.

Joseph Oklahombi (Choctaw) was the most decorated soldier from Oklahoma during WW1. His amazing exploits surpass even Sgt. York's even while being almost exactly the same, and a few days apart from each other.

At 23 years old he ran behind an enemy machine gun installation that was mowing down his comrades. As an expert hunter he was able to run across a series of barbed wire baracades and he pinned down over 250 German soldiers. After killing 79, the remaining 171 gave up.

His citation for the Croix de Guerre reads:

Under a violent barrage, [Pvt. Oklahombi] dashed to the attack of an enemy position, covering about 210 yards through barbed-wire entanglements. He rushed on machine-gun nests, capturing 171 prisoners. He stormed a strongly held position containing more than 50 machine guns, and a number of trench mortars. Turned the captured guns on the enemy, and held the position for four days, in spite of a constant barrage of large projectiles and of gas shells. Crossed no man's land many times to get information concerning the enemy, and to assist his wounded comrades


Joseph Oklahombi
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