Even though Native Americans didn’t receive nationwide citizenship until 1924, they have historically served their country in greater numbers than other ethnicities — serving with honor, patriotism and pride. Robert Holden, former director of the National Congress of American Indians, once speculated that the strong tradition of warriors as leaders within tribal nations was one reason tribal citizens continued to be drawn to military service.

There’s a great number of warriors who have served and are serving currently. It’s part of that warrior tradition.
Phillip Billy
Veterans Services, Chickasaw Nation

In World War I, Choctaw Nation soldiers were the first code talkers and were instrumental in ending the war — a military tactic repeated in World War II with Navaho, Comanche and other tribal code talkers. In 2008, the United States government formally honored the contributions of our nation’s first peoples and their service to country.

Oklahoma’s tribal nations honor and support the contributions of their veterans every day. That’s why many of Oklahoma’s tribes offer programs and services and serve as an advocate for their veterans to connect them to the benefits they have earned from service to their country.

I would go back in a minute if my country called. My tribe, same way. I would walk the Trail of Tears to come here. I would do it all over again. The scars, the emotions, the men I lost. It hurts, but I’m proud.
Larry Paul
Combat Veteran, Vietnam

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