Future of the Hawaiian Nation-Building Effort

Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe urged OHA trustees on Thursday morning to extend the timeline for nation-building and consider opening up a second roll for those Native Hawaiians who disagree with the current process.

CEO recommends extending process and creating a separate roll for those Native Hawaiians who disagree with the current process.

More than 100 people crowded into a hearing room at OHA headquarters to hear an update on the agency’s progress on facilitating Hawaiian nationhood and share their thoughts on the best path forward.

OHA, a semi-autonomous government agency charged with helping to better the lives of Native Hawaiians, conducted an aggressive public outreach campaign over a six-week period from March to May to gather signatures for the Kana’iolowalu Roll.

The list of names, estimated at over 130,000, is intended to serve as a basis for electing delegates and holding a constitutional convention as soon as this October.

But Crabbe recommended that trustees lengthen the process by six to nine months in response to community feedback that there should be more time for public outreach and education.

Kehaunani Abad, OHA’s community engagement director, described the Native Hawaiian community’s comments on nation-building as remarkably consistent, explaining that while most people supported OHA’s goals, many had concerns about the way the agency is managing the process.

Crabbe suggested trustees not only extend the timeline but boost public education about Hawaiian history and the options for nation-building. OHA has already conducted 20 town halls and 11 additional meetings, while also placing newspaper and radio advertising.

Separate roll for Native Hawaiians who have shied away from the current process

Crabbe also urged trustees to consider opening up a separate roll for Native Hawaiians who have shied away from the current process out of fear that its outcome is predetermined because OHA is a state entity.

Abad said a second registration process would “ensure that the nation doesn’t begin with a significant divide within the lahui (nation).”

But there already appears to be widely differing views about what a Hawaiian nation would look like.

Some want the ongoing nation-building process to move forward as planned and believe federal or state recognition is the best option for the indigenous community. Nearly a dozen people held up signs at Thursday’s hearing indicating that they have signed and support the current roll.

But many others want greater independence, citing the current occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. government.

A popular refrain during public testimony Thursday morning was that Hawaiian sovereignty endures and that federal recognition similar to that of many Native American tribes wouldn’t be adequate.

The disagreement is reflected within OHA itself. Recently, Crabbe sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seeking a legal opinion on whether the Hawaiian Kingdom, overthrown in 1893, still exists. And if it does, what does that mean for OHA and its efforts to rebuild a Hawaiian nation? The Board of Trustees later rescinded the letter.

Trustee Rowena Akana said she was annoyed at Crabbe’s proposal to delay the process and the continuing dissent from many in the community.

“After a while it gets kind of ridiculous,” Akana said. “Why do Hawaiians have to look like we’re such idiots fighting with each other all the time?”

But several other trustees said they support Crabbe’s recommendations. Trustee Dan Ahuna emphasized that the 350,000 Native Hawaiians who chose not to sign the roll deserve to be heard.

OHA may not be the best agency to facilitate the nation-building process

Crabbe told reporters after the hearing that OHA may not be the best agency to facilitate the nation-building process, which he described as a work in progress.

But he said that there is “political will amongst our people to establish or restore our government that is an extension of the legacy of Queen Liliokalani.”

While he wants the agency to proceed with caution, he said, “It’s imperative for us to establish some political protection as soon as possible.”

The question is what that looks like in the 21st century.

About the Author

Anita Hofschneider is a reporter at Civil Beat. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @ahofschneider.

Three Additional Tribes Work to Reduce Fractionated Land Claims

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor today announced that the Department has signed three additional agreements witth tribes to facilitate the purchase of individual interests in fractionated trust lands and consolidate ownership for the tribes with jurisdiction.

Agreements with the Coeur D’Alene Tribe of the Coeur D’Alene Reservation (Idaho), Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (Ore.), and the Gila River Indian Community of the Gila River Indian Reservation (Ariz.) detail what each tribal government will do to help implement the Program, such as appraisals, owner outreach, and education.

To date, the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) has made nearly 20,000 purchase offers to owners of fractionated interests. The Program has successfully concluded transactions worth more than $62 million and has restored the equivalent of more than 177,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

“We are encouraged by the growing enthusiasm for the Buy-Back Program across Indian Country, and the increased engagement by tribal nations to participate in its implementation,” said Deputy Secretary Connor, who joined tribal leaders in a signing ceremony today. “As part of President Obama’s commitment to help strengthen Native American communities, we will continue to implement the Program as transparently and aggressively as possible, but we know that it will succeed only through Nation-to-Nation cooperation. Our partnerships with these Tribal Nations will be critical to ensuring that individuals are aware of this historic opportunity to strengthen tribal sovereignty by supporting the consolidation of tribal lands.”

Land fractionation is a serious problem across Indian Country. As lands are passed down through generations, they gain more owners. Many tracts now have hundreds and even thousands of individual owners. Because it is difficult to gain landowner consensus, the lands often lie idle and cannot be used for any beneficial purpose.
There are now more than 245,000 owners of 3 million fractionated interests, spanning approximately 150 Indian reservations, who are eligible to participate in the Buy-Back Program.

“Since the very beginning of the Buy Back Program, we have said that its success on each reservation will depend on the willingness of tribal leaders to engage with us in moving this important initiative forward. In the agreements signed today, these tribal leaders are offering valuable support that will help to ensure the success of the program on their reservations,” said Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, who also participated in today’s signing ceremony. “We thank them for their commitment to the success of the program.”  

The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement. The Settlement provided $1.9 billion to consolidate fractional land interests across Indian Country. The Buy-Back Program allows interested individual owners to receive payments for voluntarily selling their land. Consolidated interests are immediately transferred to tribal governments and stay in trust for uses benefiting the tribes and their members.

“We are pleased that the Department of Interior recognizes that fractionation is a problem throughout Indian Country,” said Coeur d’Alene Chairman Chief Allan. “The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has worked collaboratively with Interior from the inception of the Buy-Back Program to develop a plan to address this issue. We are proud of the plan we put together and appreciative that Interior saw that the Coeur d’Alene Tribe is well prepared and stands ready to participate. We’re anxious to get started addressing fractionated ownership of trust allotments on our reservation.”

Interior is entering into cooperative agreements that are flexible and responsive to the specific needs and unique circumstances of each tribal government and location involved. The agreements showcase the active role that tribes can have, which is intended to improve the Program’s effectiveness and efficiency while minimizing administrative costs.

“The Umatilla Tribes are looking forward to implementing the Cobell Settlement through the Department of Interior’s Land Buy Back Program,” said Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Burke. “We are well positioned to work with owners of fractionated allotments in purchasing back our lands for the common interest of our Tribal members. We have and will continue to develop land management plans that will ensure our survival now and for future generations.”

Sales also will result in up to $60 million in contributions to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. This donation is in addition to the amounts paid to individual sellers, so it will not reduce the amount landowners receive for their interests.

The Gila River Indian Community has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department, rather than a cooperative agreement, because the Community is helping implement the Program using its own resources. More information of how tribal governments can participate in the Buy-Back Program is available here.

“The Gila River Indian Community is looking forward to participating in the Land Buyback Program,” said Governor Gregory Mendoza of the Gila River Indian Community. “Our reservation is one of the most fractionated in the country, but is uniquely positioned to use the Program to advance tribal energy and economic development opportunities that will benefit our entire Community.”

Landowners with interests at Coeur D’Alene, Umatilla or Gila River can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at (888) 678-6836 to get more information about the potential to sell land so that it can be returned to the tribe or to register their information.

Source: doi.gov

17 Candidates running for Navajo Tribal President Position

The race to become the Navajo Nation’s next president features a mix of lawmakers, political newcomers, former tribal officials, a woman and the incumbent. In all, 17 candidates are running for the position.

Navajo President Ben Shelly is seeking a second term in the post. He’ll be challenged by 16 others who met this week’s deadline to file for the race.

Among them are former President Joe Shirley Jr., and tribal lawmakers Kenneth Maryboy and Russell Begaye. Carrie Lynn Martin is the sole woman in the race.

The primary election is set for Aug. 26. Voters will choose two candidates to move on to November’s general election.

Navajos also will be voting to fill 24 seats on the Tribal Council. One lawmaker, Jonathan Nez, is running unopposed.

Celebrate Salish Sea Culture with the Samish and Swinomish tribes.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites you to attend the Ninth Annual Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration with the Samish and Swinomish tribes. The event takes place Saturday, June 7 at Deception Pass State Park on Fidalgo Island, between the cities of Oak Harbor and Anacortes.


Celebrate the maritime heritage of the two participating Coast Salish tribes and enjoy canoe rides, singers, drummers and storytellers. Artists from the two tribes will demonstrate traditional weaving, cedar work and woodcarving. A salmon and fry bread lunch are also available for purchase during the event.

Event activities are presented by the Samish Indian Nation, the Samish Canoe Family, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Swinomish Canoe Family. Proceeds from food sales at the celebration support the Samish and Swinomish canoe families’ participation in the annual intertribal canoe journey. Each year, tribes and nations from the Pacific Northwest travel by canoe to a different host community along the Salish Sea.

The Discover Pass is not required to attend this event as it is a State Parks “free day.” Visitors are not required to display a Discover Pass to access state parks on free days.

Event details

What: Ninth Annual Salish Sea Native American Culture Celebration

When: Noon – 4 p.m., June 7

Where: Bowman Bay picnic area on the Fidalgo Island side of Deception Pass State Park, 41020 State Route 20 in Oak Harbor, WA.

Directions: To get to the Bowman Bay area at Deception Pass State Park, use the park’s entrance at the junction of Rosario Road and State Route 20. The entrance is north of the Deception Pass Bridge, by Pass Lake.

Note: The event is accessible to persons with disabilities. For special accommodations requests, call (360) 902-8626 or (360) 675-3767 or the Washington Telecommunications Relay Service at (800) 833-6388. Requests must be made in advance.

For more info, contact:
Jack Hartt, State Park Manager, (360) 675-3767 or [email protected]

Srey Ryser, State Parks, (360) 902-8626 or [email protected]
Leslie Eastwood, Samish Indian Nation, (360) 293-6404

Role Model for Indian Country

We are living in historic times for Indian Country. As we are still celebrating the confirmation of Diane Humetewa, the first Native American woman who will serve as a Federal Judge, there is another opportunity for a historic ‘first’ at our fingertips. The United States Senate is scheduled to vote on Keith Harper’s Nomination to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Mr. Harper would be the first member of a federally recognized tribe to serve as an Ambassador for the United States.

Like, Judge Humetewa, Harper is highly qualified for this position and they will be the first of many talented Native Americans to serve their country in these high profile roles in the future.

Keith Harper has been a longtime advocate for the civil and human rights of Native Americans and Indigenous people here and around the world. He has represented the National Congress of American Indians at the United Nations and Organization of American States in negotiations on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As a skilled litigator, tribal court judge and experienced advocate for tribal governments Mr. Harper’s unique skills and experience make him the ideal nominee for this important position.

His prompt confirmation is essential to ensuring the United States is represented at the upcoming sessions of the U.N. Human Rights Council. Also, his presence at the U.N. General Assembly’s World Conference on Indigenous Peoples will send a strong message to the world about the United States’ commitment to the rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives and all Indigenous peoples around the globe.

Indian Country has waited a long time

Indian Country has waited a long time – far too long – for a Native woman to be confirmed to the Federal Bench and for a tribal citizen to be representing the United States abroad as an Ambassador. While our children and grandchildren will always face great challenges in their lives, they will soon be facing them with role models like Judge Humetewa and Ambassador Harper, and the many more that will follow.

As the legendary Billy Frank Jr. wrote, not long before his passing, “I cannot think of a better representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council than Keith…I can’t tell you how proud that makes me and how important a message it sends to our families and children all across Indian Country…I know he will serve his country well and make all of Indian Country proud.”

There are still countless challenges facing Indian Country, but right now the United States Senate has an opportunity to send a strong message with these trailblazing public servants.

We thank and congratulate the President Obama for these historic nominations and we call on the United States Senate to overwhelming support Mr. Harper’s confirmation when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. He deserves to be confirmed and qualified Native Americans need to always be considered for such important positions from this point forward.


About the Authors:

Brian Cladoosby, Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community;
Jefferson Keel, Lieutenant Governor, Chickasaw Nation;
Joe Garcia, Head Councilman, Ohkay Owingeh;
Tex Hall, Chairman, Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation;
Susan Masten, Vice Chairperson, Yurok Tribe; and
W. Ron Allen, Chairman/CEO, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

The co-authors have all served as the President of the National Congress of American Indians. The National Congress of American Indians, founded in 1944, is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.

Ruth Ziolkowski passes on at age 87

Crazy Horse memorial, South Dakota.

Ruth Ziolkowski, who has died aged 87 after a prolonged struggle with cancer, spent much of her life helping her husband, the Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, to achieve his dream of transforming a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota into a colossal sculpture depicting the 19th-century Oglala Lakota war chief Crazy Horse.

  Crazy Horse memorial, South Dakota.

Visitors view the progress of the Crazy Horse memorial in the Black Hills of Dakota, a project taken on by Ruth Ziolkowski after the death of her husband, Korczak, a sculptor. Photograph: Sergio Pitamitz/Robert Hardi/Rex

When Korczak died in 1982, the project could have foundered; it had been in progress for 34 years and still, despite vast quantities of rock having been blasted away, the pink granite crag did not look even remotely like a warrior on horseback.

But Ruth more than made the project her own and, with help from several of the Ziolkowskis’ children and a charitable foundation, progress on the mountain accelerated. The first definable feature, the rider’s face, 26.67 metres (87ft 6in) high, was completed in 1998, in time for the 50th anniversary of the very first blast. Work subsequently began on the next phase – the horse’s head, 66.75 metres high. Although there is still no estimated completion date, Ruth never lost her faith that her husband’s vision would eventually be realised; she said her wish was to “live more years than possible because I would love to see it finished”.

The idea for the project was born in the 1930s, after Korczak helped on the final stages of construction at Mount Rushmore, where the faces of the US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are carved into the landscape. He fell out with the project’s creator, Gutzon Borglum, and resolved to create a competing monument after he was contacted by the Sioux leader Henry Standing Bear, who said: “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes too.”

Korczak designed the figure of Crazy Horse, who was one of the leading figures in the Native American defeat of General Custer at the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, pointing towards his prairie heartland. The sculptor purchased the mountain, which is 17 miles from Rushmore, from the federal government and construction began in 1948.

Ruth Ziolkowski in 2009.
Ruth Ross met her husband, the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, when she was 13. Photograph: Alamy

Ruth Ross was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, and first met Korczak when she was 13. Later she was among the local students who helped him on a two-year project to produce for the town a 4.11 metre-high statue of Noah Webster, the creator of Webster’s Dictionary and a West Hartford native. It was completed in 1941. Six years later she joined him in the Black Hills as he prepared to start on the Crazy Horse project, which had been delayed by the second world war. The couple married in 1950.

While Korczak battled on the mountain, Ruth did just about everything else. As well as raising 10 children, she ordered equipment needed to shape the rock, managed the visitor centre, greeted sightseers and fielded growing numbers of media inquiries. She also ran the large dairy farm and timber mill that helped finance the early years; Korczak refused all federal funding, believing it would be an insult to Native Americans.

Ruth also assisted her husband in drawing up three books of comprehensive plans and measurements for the sculpture. It was vital preparation for the time when she inherited the project. Under her direction, targets were set and achieved – and more than a million people a year came to watch. She took the crucial decision to complete work on the figure’s face – Korczak had wanted to complete the horse first – as she believed it would aid fundraising.

When work on the horse’s head started after almost two years of examining the challenge from every angle, she declared: “The first hurdle was one of logistics – we have taken considerable time to measure and calculate the best approach to what will be an extraordinary and lengthy undertaking. We’ve been mindful of Korczak’s good advice to ‘Go slowly so you do it right’ as well as the old adage about the wisdom of measuring something six times before you cut it once.”

Crazy Horse sculpture

A model of the Crazy Horse sculpture with the work in progress in the background. Photograph: Alamy

As for the cost and timescale, Ruth believed there were too many unknowns to make any realistic projection other than a “conservative” estimate that carving the horse’s head could cost more than the total spent on the mountain during the project’s first half-century and that, taking into account weather and funding, it could take “perhaps decades”.

She felt that Korczak, who was buried at the foot of the mountain, would be “absolutely thrilled” with the way the work had advanced since the 1980s. Her dedication brought her many honours. After giving Ruth an honorary degree, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology presented the whole family with an outstanding public service award in 1998. Korczak Day is celebrated locally every year on 3 May, the anniversary of Korczak’s arrival in the Black Hills in 1947.

Visitors baffled by the scale of the project often asked Ruth to explain Korczak’s motivations. “He decided it would be well worth his life carving a mountain,” she said in an interview in 2006. “He felt by having the mountain carving, he could give back some pride. And he was a believer that if your pride is intact you can do anything in the world you want to do.”

She is survived by her children John, Dawn, Adam, Jadwiga, Casimir, Mark, Joel, Monique and Marinka; 23 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Her daughter Anne died in 2011.

• Ruth Carolyn Ziolkowski, co-creator of the Crazy Horse monument, born 26 June 1926; died 21 May 2014

Proposed changes to the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes

The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday announced proposed changes to the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, revisions that could make it easier for some groups to achieve status that brings increased benefits as well as opportunities for commercial development.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs says it overhauled the rules to make tribal acknowledgment more transparent and efficient.

The changes include a new requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934, where they previously had to show continuity from “historical times.” That change was first proposed in a draft last June and stirred criticism that the standards for recognition were being watered down.

Kevin Washburn, an assistant secretary with Indian Affairs, said the rules are no less rigorous. He said 1934 was chosen as a dividing line because that was the year Congress accepted the existence of tribes as political entities.

“The proposed rule would slightly modify criteria to make it more consistent with the way we’ve been applying the criteria in the past,” Washburn said in an interview.

Gerald Gray, chairman of Montana’s Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, said the changes offer the path to recognition that his people have sought for decades.

The landless tribe of about 4,500 members has been recognized by the state of Montana since 2000, but its bid for federal recognition was rejected in 2009 partly because the tribe could not document continuity through the early part of the 20th century. Gray said that denial illustrated how the process is broken.

“For a lot of the Plains tribes, and Indians in the country as a whole, there’s oral history but not a lot of written history,” Gray said. “But we can prove our existence as a tribal entity and having a tribal government back to (1934).”

The newly published rules represent the first overhaul in two decades for a recognition process that has been criticized as slow, inconsistent and overly susceptible to political influence. The Interior Department held consultations on the draft proposal around the country last summer and will accept comment for at least 60 days before the rules are finalized.

Federal recognition, which has been granted to 566 American tribes, is coveted because it brings increased health and education benefits to tribal members in addition to land protections and opportunities for casinos and other development projects.

Some of the strongest criticism has come from Connecticut, where elected officials have argued that the proposed changes could benefit three groups that have fallen short of recognition in the past and open the door to new casinos. Officials including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s congressional delegation said in a joint statement Thursday that changes and clarifications are necessary “to ensure that Connecticut’s interests are protected.”

Supporters of the rule change say it helps to remove unfair burdens. Advocates say that some tribes have been denied recognition because records were lost or burned over hundreds of years, and any tribe that was still together by 1934 had overcome histories of mistreatment.

Other changes in the new rule include:

— Eighty percent of a group’s membership would have to descend from a tribe that existed in historical times. The rule currently says that membership descend from a historical tribe.

— Thirty percent of a group’s membership would have to comprise a community. The rule now says a “predominant portion” of membership must comprise a community.

— Groups that have been denied recognition in the past would be allowed to submit new petitions under some circumstances. That is currently prohibited.

About the Author:

Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

Oklahoma Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry delivered 8,000 petition signatures

A group of Native American parents and supporters held a rally at the state Capitol and delivered a petition to the governor’s office over the state’s relationship with tribes.

Oklahoma Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry delivered 8,000 petition signatures to Gov. Mary Fallin’s office on Monday. The petition calls for repairing the relationship between the state government and its indigenous people, which the group says has been strained.

According to a spokeswoman, the group requested a meeting with the governor, but was told it would be a few months before she was available.

A spokesman for the governor says the tribal governments are important partners to state government and that Fallin “values the good relationships her administration has cultivated with them.”

Casting call for native american male, 20 to 40 years old

A Chicago based production company, a Branded Media Digital Campaign with One Tree Forest Productions, is looking for a male descended from a native American line in South Dakota and who has become disconnected from his native roots for the lead role in a new documentary film.

The company will be making a documentary film recording your experiences as  you try to reconnect with your family, or relatives you have never met before on the reservation. The position will cover all your travel expenses, plus a small stipend will be provided.

Filming will take 3-4 days during the summer of 2014. They are looking for someone with a great personality who would like to reconnect with their cultural roots and willing to reconnect with family or meet someone new. You will be taking a trip back to rediscover your ancestry and personal history.

The qualified person will be 20 to 40 years old, looking for an adventure, have ancestors in South Dakota, and be willing to learn something new about themselves. This documentary film will be about your journey home and what you have learned from the experience.

If you are interested in this position, send your name, age, where you live, photo(s) and a short back story of your history to [email protected]

Toni Rose is the casting director.


Calusa Indians

The Calusa Indians were a formidable Florida tribe who formerly held the southwest coast from about Tampa Bay to Cape Sable and Cape Florida, together with all the outlying keys, and extending inland to Lake Okeechobee. They also claimed authority over the tribes of the east coast, north to about Cape Canaveral.

The city of Tampa, Florida is named after and on the site of one of their principle villages.


First Contact with Europeans

The Calusa first encountered Europeans in 1513 when they boldly attacked Ponce de León, who was about to land on their coast, with a fleet of 80 canoes and after an all-day fight compelled their enemy to withdraw.

Even at this early date they were already noted among the tribes for the golden wealth which they had accumulated from the numerous Spanish wrecks cast away upon the Keys in passage from the south. Two centuries later they were regarded as veritable pirates, plundering and killing without mercy the crews of all vessels, except the Spanish.

They practiced human sacrifice of captives, scalped and dismembered their slain enemies, and were repeatedly accused of being cannibals.

How the Calusa Indians lived

They were farmers to a limited extent, but were better noted as expert fishermen, daring seamen, and fierce and determined fighters, keeping up their resistance to the Spanish arms and missionary advances after all the rest of Florida had submitted.

In 1567 the Spaniards established a mission and fortified post among them, but both seem to have been discontinued soon after, although the tribe came later under Spanish influence. About this time, they numbered nearly 50 villages.

By the year 1600, they were carrying on regular trade with Havana, Cuba.

What happened to the Calusa Indians?

Constant invasions of the Creek and other Indian allies of the English eventually drove the Calusa from the mainland and forced them to take refuge on the Florida Keys. Some were evacuated to Cuba, where many of them died.

When Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in 1763, the last remnants of the tribes of south Florida were sent to Cuba. Those few that remained on the mainland were absorbed into the Seminole tribe; however, their language and culture survived up to the close of the second Seminole war.

Utina Indians or Timucua Indians

 The Utina, with the possible exception of the Potano, was the leading Timucua division in Florida and gave its name to the whole. They lived along the Suwannee River to the St. Johns and eastward, though some of the subdivisions given should be rated as independent tribes.

First European contact with the Utina Indians

The Utina first came into contact with Europeans during Ponce de Leon’s initial expedition in 1513 when the peninsula and subsequently the State received its name. Narvaez in 1528 and De Soto in 1539 passed through the country of the western tribes. In 1564 the French came in contact with them after the establishment of Fort Caroline. On one occasion they sent a contingent to help them defeat the neighboring Potano.

After the Spaniards had supplanted the French, the Timucua allied themselves with the Spanish and in 1576 or 1577 a body of soldiers was sent to support them against several neighboring tribes. The Spaniards supplanted the French in 1565 and gradually conquered the Timucua tribes while the Franciscans missionized them.The Utina were one of the earlier missionized tribes. 

Ribault visited those on and near St. Johns River in 1562, and the French settlers of Fort Caroline on that river in 1564-65 were in close contact with them. A considerable part of our knowledge regarding these Indians is contained in the records of that colony. 

Utina Towns

Laudonniere (1586) states that there were more than 40 towns under the Utina chief, but among them he includes some sub-divisions that were independent of the Utina such as “Acquera” (Acuera) and Moquoso far to the south. This makes it unsure of the accuracy of his claims of status of others he names such as: Cadecha, Calanay, Chilili, Eclauou, Molona, Omittaqua, and Onachaquara.

In De Soto’s time Aguacaleyquen or Caliquen seems to have been the principal town. In the mission period we are told that the chief lived at Ayaocuto. Acassa, a town inland from Tampa Bay.

Other (mostly Utina) towns in the Timucua empire included:

  • Aguacaleyquen, a town in the province of Utina between Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers.
  • Ahoica, probably near the Santa Fe River.
  • Alachepoyo, inland from Tampa Bay.
  • Alatico, probably on Cumberland Island.
  • Albino, 40 leagues or 4 days inland from St. Augustine and within 1% to 2 leagues of two others called Tucuro and Utiaca.
  • Alimacani, on an island of the same name not far north of the mouth of St. Johns River.
  • Amaca, inland from Tampa Bay.
  • Anacapa, in the Fresh Water Province 20 leagues south of St. Augustine. Anacharaqua, location unknown.
  • Antonico, in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Apalu, in the province of Yustaga.
  • Arapaja, 70 leagues from St. Augustine, Probably on Alapaha River.
  • Araya, south of the Withlacoochee River.
  • Archaha, location unknown.
  • Assile, on or near Aucilla River.
  • Astina, location unknown.
  • Atuluteca, probably near San Pedro or Cumberland Island.
  • Ayacamale, location unknown.
  • Ayaocute, in the Utina country 34 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Ayotore, inland from Cumberland Island and probably southwest.
  • Beca, location unknown.
  • Becao, location unknown.
  • Bejesi, location unknown, perhaps the Apalachee town of Wacissa.
  • Cachipile, 70 leagues west of St. Augustine.
  • Çacoroy, south of St. Augustine and 1′J2 leagues from Nocoroco, probably in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Cadecha, allied with Utina.
  • Calany, allied with Utina.
  • Caparaca, south of St. Augustine, southwest of Nocoroco and probably in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Casti, location unknown.
  • Cayuco, near Tampa Bay.
  • Chamini, 70 leagues west of St. Augustine.
  • Chimaucayo, south of St. Augustine.
  • Çhinica, 131 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Cholupaha, south of Aguacaleyquen in the Potano Province.
  • Chuaquin, 60 leagues west of St. Augustine.
  • Çicale, south of St. Augustine and 3 leagues south of Nocoroco, perhaps in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Cilili, said to be a Utina town.
  • Colucuchia, several leagues south of Nocoroco.
  • Coya, location unknown.
  • Disnica, south of St. Augustine, perhaps should be Tisnica.
  • Eçalamototo, on the site of Picolata
  • Egita, near Tampa Bay, possibly a variant of Oçita.
  • Eclauou, location unknown.
  • Edelano, on an island of the same name in St. Johns River.
  • Elajay, location unknown, perhaps Calusa.
  • Elanogue, in the Fresh Water Province near Antonico.
  • Emola, location unknown.
  • Enecaque, location unknown.
  • Equale, in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Ereze, inland from Tampa Bay.
  • Esquega, a town or tribe on the west coast.
  • Exangue, near Cumberland Island. Filache, in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Guacara, on Suwannee River in northwestern Florida
  • Guaçoco, probably a town on a plain so called Urriparacoxi country. Heliocopile, location unknown.
  • Helmacape, location unknown.
  • Hicachirico (“Little town”), one league from the mission of San Juan del Puerto, which was probably at the mouth of St. Johns River in the Saturiwa Province.
  • Hiocaia, the probable name of a town giving its name to a chief, location unknown.
  • Huara, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Itaraholata, south of Potano, Potano Province.
  • Juraya, a rancheria, apparently in the Timucua territory.
  • Laca, another name for Eçalamototo.
  • Lamale, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Luca, between Tampa Bay and the Withlacoochee River in the Urriparacoxi country.
  • Machaba, 64 leagues from St. Augustine, near the northern border of the Timucua country inland.
  • Maiaca the town of the Fresh Water Province most distant from St. Augustine, a few leagues north of Cape Canaveral and on St. Johns River.
  • Malaca, south of Nocoroco.
  • Marracou, location unknown.
  • Mathiaqua, location unknown.
  • Mayajuaca, near Maiaca.
  • Mayara, on lower St. Johns River.
  • Mocama, possibly a town on Cumberland Island, province of Tacatacuru, but probably a province.
  • Mogote, south of St. Augustine in the region of Nocoroco.
  • Moloa, on the south side of St. Johns River near its mouth, province of Saturiwa. Napa, on an island one league from Cumberland Island.
  • Napituca, north of Aguacaleyquen, province of Utina.
  • Natobo, a mission station and probably native town 232 leagues from San Juan
  • del Puerto at the mouth of St. Johns River, province of Saturiwa.
  • Nocoroco, at the mouth of a river, perhaps Halifax River, one day’s journey south of Matanzas Inlet, Fresh Water Province.
  • Ocale, in a province of the same name in the neighborhood of the present Ocala.
  • Oçita, probably on Terra Ceia Island, on Hillsborough Bay.
  • Onathaqua, a town or tribe near Cape Canaveral.
  • Osigubede, a chief and probably town on the west coast.
  • Panara, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Patca, location unknown.
  • Patica, on the seacoast 8 leagues south of the mouth of St. Johns River.
  • Patica, on the west bank of St. Johns River in the Utina territory.
  • Pebe, a chief and probably a town on the west coast.
  • Pentoaya, at the head of Indian River.
  • Perquyinaland, south of Nocoroco; possibly the names of two towns, Perqui and Maland, run together.
  • Pia, on the east coast south of Nocoroco.
  • Pitano, a mission station and probably a native town a league and a half from Puturiba.
  • Pohoy, a town or province, or both, at Tampa Bay, and perhaps a synonym of Ocita.
  • Potano, the principal town of the Potano tribe, on the Alachua plains.
  • Potaya, 4 leagues from San Juan del Puerto at the mouth of St. Johns River. Puala, near Cumberland Island.
  • Punhuri, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Puturiba, probably near the northern end of Cumberland Island, province of
  • Tacatacuru. There was another town of the same name west of the Suwannee River.
  • Sabobche, near the coast south of Nocoroco.
  • Saint Julian, in the Fresh Water Province.
  • San Mateo, about 2 leagues from San Juan del Puerto at the mouth of St. Johns River, province of Saturiwa.
  • San Pablo, about 13 leagues from San Juan del Puerto, province of Saturiwa. San Sebastian, on an arm of the sea near St. Augustine.
  • Sarauahi, a quarter of a league from San Juan del Puerto.
  • Sena, on an “inlet” north of the mouth of St. Johns River, perhaps Amelia River. Siyagueche, near Cape Canaveral.
  • Socochuno, location unknown.
  • Soloy, not far from St. Augustine and probably on the river called Seloy by the French.
  • Surruque, a town or tribe near Cape Canaveral.
  • Tacatacuru, the name of Cumberland Island and Province, and perhaps of the chief town, on the mainland side of the island near the southern end, 2 leagues from the Barra de San Pedro.
  • Tafocole, inland from Tampa Bay.
  • Tahupa, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Tanpacaste, a chief and perhaps town north of Pohoy, i. e., north of Tampa Bay.
  • Tarihica, 54 leagues from St. Augustine, and perhaps in the Onatheaqua Province.
  • Tocaste, on a large lake south of the Withlacoochee River, province of Urriparacoxi.
  • Tocoaya, very near Cumberland Island.
  • Tocobaga, the chief town of the province so called, in Safety Harbor, Tampa Bay.
  • Tocoy, in the Fresh Water Province 5 leagues south of St. Augustine. Tolapatafi, probably toward the west coast of the peninsula of Florida near Aucilla River.
  • Toloco, location unknown.
  • Tomeo, near the Fresh Water Province.
  • Tucura, near the Fresh Water Province.
  • Tucuro, see Abino.
  • Tunsa, possibly a synonym of Antonico.
  • Uçachile, a town or tribe in the Yustaga Province, perhaps the mother town of the Osochi.
  • Uqueten, the southernmost village of the province of Ocale on Withlacoochee River entered by De Soto.
  • Urica, 60 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Uriutina, just north of the river of Aguacaleyquen, perhaps at Lake City.
  • Urubia, near Cape Canaveral and 134 leagues from the town of Surruque. Utayne, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Utiaca, see Abino.
  • Utichini, inland from Cumberland Island and within a league and a half of Puturiba.
  • Utinamocharra, 1 day’s journey north of Potano, Potano Province.
  • Vera Cruz, half a league from San Juan del Puerto, province of Saturiwa.
  • Vicela, a short distance south of Withlacoochee River, province of Urriparacoxi.
  • Xapuica, near the Guale country, perhaps a synonym of Caparaca.
  • Xatalalano, inland from Cumberland Island.
  • Yaocay, near Antonico in the Fresh Water Province.
  • Ycapalano, inland from Cumberland Island and probably within half a league or a league of Puturiba.
  • Yufera, inland and probably northwest from Cumberland Island.

Timucua language

Our knowledge of the Timucua language is derived mainly from religious works by the missionaries Pareja and Mouilla and a grammar compiled by the former. During the early half of the seventeenth century the missions were in a flourishing condition but a general rebellion in 1656 resulted in some losses by death and exile. They also suffered severely from European diseases which raged in the missions in 1613-17, 1649-50, and 1672. It is probable that some decline in population took place even before the great rebellion but that and the epidemics occasioned considerable losses.

Toward the end of the seventeenth century all the Florida Indians began to suffer from the invasion of Creek and Yuchi Indians to the northward, and this was accentuated after the break-up of the Apalachee in 1704 by the expedition under Moore.

Utina Population

The Timucua collectively are estimated by Mooney (1928) to have numbered 13,000 in 1650, including 3,000 Potano, 1,000 Hostaqua, 8,000 Timucua proper and their allies, and 1,000 Tocobaga. In a letter dated February 2, 1635, it is asserted that 30,000 Christian Indians were connected with the 44 missions then maintained in the Guale and Timucua provinces. While this figure is probably too high, it tends to confirm Mooney’s (1928) estimate.

In 1675 Bishop Calderón of Cuba states that he confirmed 13,152 in the four provinces of Timucua, Guale. Apalache, and Apalachicoli, but Governor Salazar estimates only 1,400 in the Timucua missions that year.

Later, European diseases decimated the Timucua very rapidly, and their ruin was completed by attacks of the English and the northern Indians, so that by 1728 the single town which seems to have contained most of the survivors had but 15 men and 20 women. Eight years later 17 men were reported there. Not long after this time the tribe disappears entirely, though it is highly probable that numbers of individuals who had belonged to it had made their homes with other Indians.

As to the Utina tribe by itself, we have a missionary letter dated 1602 which estimates its population as 1,500, in this case probably an understatement.

What happened to the Utina tribe?

After most of the Utina died in massive epidemics, the remaining Timucua were concentrated into missions near St. Augustine, but this did not secure immunity against further attacks by the English and their Indian allies. Sometime after 1736 the remnants of these people seem to have removed to a stream in the present day Volusia County which is called the Tomoka today. Here they disappear from history, and it is probable that they were swallowed up by the invading Seminole.

Agna Dulce Indians, also known as the Freshwater Tribe

The Agna Dulce Indians were often referred to as the Freshwater Tribe. This name applied to the people of seven to nine neighboring towns which were related to the Acuera Indians. They lived along the coast of eastern Florida between St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral.


First European Contact

Ponce de Leon made his landfall upon this coast in 1513. The French had few dealings with these people but undoubtedly met them.

Fontaneda heard of the provinces of Maiaca and Mayajuaca in 1854, and later there were two Spanish missions in this territory, San Antonio de Anacape and San Salvador de Maiaca. These appear in the mission list of 1655 and in that of 1680, but from data given with the latter, it is evident that Yamasee were then settled at Anacape.

Agna Dulce Population

There are no separate population figures given for the Agna Dulce Indians, but in 1602, the missions recorded 200 Indians belonging to this tribe had been Christianized and 100 more were under instruction.

What happened to the Freshwater Indians?

All of these Indians were converted to Christianity early in the seventeenth century and the population declined rapidly after exposure to European illness for which they had no immunity. The last body of Timucua were settled in this district. (See Utina Indians.)

Acuera Indians

The Acuera Indians belonged to the Timucuan linguistic division of the Muskhogean linguistic family. They lived near the the headwaters of the Ocklawaha River in what is now Florida.

Buy this I Support Native American Rights t-shirt
I Support Native American Rights T Shirts Freshwater Indians and the Unita Indians, are some of the related tribes with which the Acuera tribe later intermingled. These tribes were known collectively as the Timucua Indians, after the region in which they were located, although there was a dominant tribe in this confederacy also known singularly as the Timucua tribe.

First European Contact

The Acuera were first mentioned in a letter written by Desoto at Tampa Bay to the civil cabildo of Santiago de Cuba. According to information transmitted to him by his officer Baltazar de Gallegos, Acuera was “a large town where with much convenience we might winter,” but the Spaniards did not in fact pass through it, though, while they were at Ocale, they sent to Acuera for corn.

The name appears later in Laudonniere’s narrative of the second French expedition to Florida, 1564-65 (1586), as a tribe allied with the Utina. It is noted sparingly in later Spanish documents but we learn that in 1604 there was an encounter between these Indians and Spanish troops and that there were two Acuera missions in 1655, San Luis and Santa Lucia, both of which had disappeared by 1680.

The inland position of the Acuera is partly responsible for the few notices of them. The remnant was probably gathered into the “Pueblo de Timucua,” which stood near St. Augustine in 1736, and was finally removed to the Mosquito Lagoon and Halifax River in Volusia County, Florida.

Acuera Indian Population

The population of the Acuera is not recorded until after they merged with the Timucua. The Timucua are collectively estimated by Mooney (1928) to have numbered 13,000 in 1650, including 3,000 Potano, 1,000 Hostaqua, 8,000 Timucua proper and their allies, and 1,000 Tocobaga.

In a letter dated February 2, 1635, it is asserted that 30,000 Christian Indians were connected with the 44 missions then maintained in the Guale and Timucua provinces. While this figure is probably too high, it tends to confirm Mooney’s (1928) estimate.

In 1675 Bishop Calderón of Cuba states that he confirmed 13,152 in the four provinces of Timucua, Guale. Apalache, and Apalachicoli, but Governor Salazar estimates only 1,400 in the Timucua missions that year.

What happened to the Acuera Indians?

European disease decimated the Timucua very rapidly, and their ruin was completed by attacks by the English and the northern Indians, so that by 1728 the single town which seems to have contained most of the survivors had but 15 men and 20 women. Eight years later 17 men were reported there. Not long after this time the tribe disappears entirely, though it is highly probable that numbers of individuals who had belonged to it had made their homes with other Indian tribes.

Nine native americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor

Woodrow W. Keeble, Medal of Honor Recipient

In the 20th century, at least nine American Indians have been among those warriors to be distinguished by receiving the United States’ highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism “above and beyond the call of duty,” these warriors exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy and, in two cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Medal of Honor is the highest U.S. military decoration awarded to individuals who, while serving in the U.S. armed services, have distinguished themselves by conspicuous gallantry and courage at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.

Each recommendation for this decoration must incontestably prove that the act of bravery or self-sacrifice involved obvious risk of life and, if the risk hadn’t been taken, there would be no just grounds for censure. The award is made in the name of congress and is presented by the President of the United States. Originally authorized by congress in 1861, it’s sometimes called the “Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Woodrow W. Keeble (Sioux)

Woodrow W. Keeble, Medal of Honor Recipient
Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble (1917-1982) was a U.S. Army National Guard veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He was a full-blooded member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, a Sioux Native American tribe.

Master Sergeant Keeble, a highly-decorated U.S. war veteran, didn’t receive his Medal of Honor until some 16 years after his death. On March 3, 2008, in honor of Master Sgt. Keeble’s gallantry during his service in the Korean War, Kurt Bluedog, Keeble’s great nephew, and Russ Hawkins, a step-son, accepted the award honoring Keeble, the first full-blooded Sioux Indian to receive the Medal of Honor.

Van T. Barfoot (Chocktaw)

Van T. Barfoot, Choctaw receipient of the Medal of Honor

Van T. Barfoot is a Choctaw from Mississippi, and was a Second Lieutenant in the Thunderbirds. On 23 May 1944, during the breakout from Anzio to Rome, Barfoot advanced through a minefield, took out three enemy machine gun emplacements with hand grenades and expert fire from his Thompson submachine gun,and captured 17 German soldiers. Later that same day, he picked up a bazooka, took on and destroyed one of the three advancing Mark VI tanks that German commanders ordered in to spearhead their fierce heavy-armored counter attack on Barfoot’s platoon position in an unsuccessful effort to retake their lost machinegun positions.

As the tank crew members dismounted their disabled tank, Sgt. Barfoot killed three of the German soldiers outright with his tommy gun. Barfoot then continued further into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted two of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Barfoot is also credited with capturing and bringing back 17 German prisoners of war (POWs) to his platoon position that day.

Mr. Barfoot served in the WW2, Korean and Vietnam wars…then his neighborhood association told the 90-year-old warrior to take down his flag pole. His local neighborhood association quibbled over how the famous 90-year-old war hero chose to fly the American flag outside his suburban Virginia home.

It seems the rules stated a flag may be flown on a house-mounted bracket, but, for decorum, items such as Barfoot’s 21-foot flagpole were socially unsuitable. Barfoot had been previously denied a permit for a flagpole — he erected it anyway despite the permit issue — and then he ended up facing court action unless he took it down.

After the story made national TV news headlines, the neighborhood association rethought its position and agreed to indulge the old hero.

Roy P. Benavidez (Yaqui)

Roy P. Benavidez, Medal of Honor recipientMaster Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam.

On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction.

Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage.

Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team.

Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members.

He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members.

As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed.

Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight.

Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land.

His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he received additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter.

Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft.

Sergeant Benavidez’s gallant choice to voluntarily join his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

A Navy ship was named after him and a GI Joe doll was modeled after him.

Ernest Childers (Creek)

Ernest Childers, Medal of Honor Recipient

A Creek American Indian from Oklahoma, and a First Lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division, Childers received the Medal of Honor for heroic action in 1943 when, up against machine gun fire, he and eight men charged the enemy. Although suffering a broken foot in the assault, Childers ordered covering fire and advanced up the hill, single-handedly killing two snipers, silencing two machine gun nests, and capturing an enemy mortar observer.

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (Winnebago)

Mitchell Red Cloud, Medal of Honor Recipient

A Winnebago from Wisconsin, and a Corporal in Company E., 19th Infantry Regiment in Korea. On 5 November 1950, Red Cloud was on a ridge guarding his company command post when he was surprised by Chinese communist forces. He sounded the alarm and stayed in his position firing his automatic rifle and point-blank to check the assault.

This gave his company time to consolidate their defenses. After being severely wounded by enemy fire, he refused assistance and continued firing upon the enemy until he was fatally wounded. His heroic action prevented the enemy from overrunning his company’s position and gained time for evacuation of the wounded.

Charles George (Cherokee)

Charles George, Medal of Honor Recipient

Charles George was a Cherokee from North Carolina, and Private First Class in Korea when he was killed on 30 November 1952.

During battle, George threw himself upon a grenade and smothered it with his body. In doing so, he sacrificed his own life but saved the lives of his comrades.

For this brave and selfless act, George was posthumously award the Medal of Honor in 1954.

Ernest Edwin Evans (Cherokee-Creek)

Ernest Edwin Evans, Medal of Honor Recipient

A Cherokee/Creek from Oklahoma, during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, 24-26 October 1944, Commander of the USS Johnston, he formed a part of the screen for escort aircraft carriers of the SEVENTH Fleet which on 25 October encountered off Samar the Center Force of the Japanese Fleet after it had transited San Bernardino Strait during the night of 24-25 October.

The USS Johnston waged a gallant fight against heavy Japanese fleet units but was sunk by the enemy ships. Lieutenant Commander Evans was awarded the Navy Cross, later recalled and replaced by the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously by United States Congress.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Commander Evans had the China Service Medal, American Defense Medal, Fleet Clasp, and was entitled to the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six engagement stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Defense and Liberation Ribbons with one star.

A U.S. Navy destroyer war ship, the USS Evans (DE-1023), was named in honor of Commander Evans.

Jack C. Montgomery (Cherokee)

Jack C. Montgomery, Medal of Honor Recipient

A Cherokee from Oklahoma, and a First Lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division Thunderbirds. On 22 February 1944, near Padiglione, Italy, Montgomery’s rifle platoon was under fire by three echelons of enemy forces, when he single-handedly attacked all three positions, taking prisoners in the process.

As a result of his courage, Montgomery’s actions demoralized the enemy and inspired his men to defeat the Axis troops.

Pappy Boyington (Sioux)

Pappy Boyington, Medal of Honor Recipient

Pappy Boyington was a highly decorated American combat pilot who was a United States Marine Corps fighter ace during World War II. He received both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.

Pappy Boyington served as a fighter pilot in both the US Navy and the Marines, and achieved the rank of Colonel in the Marines.

Boyington was initially a P-40 Warhawk combat pilot with the legendary “Flying Tigers” (1st American Volunteer Group) in the Republic of China Air Force in Burma at the end of 1941 and part of 1942; during the military conflict between China and Japan, and the beginning of World War II.

Boyington was shot down during a WWII combat mission and declared missing in action. He had been picked up by a Japanese submarine and became a prisoner of war. According to Boyington’s autobiography, he was never accorded official P.O.W. status by the Japanese and his captivity was not reported to the Red Cross. He spent the rest of the war, some 20 months, in Japanese prison camps.

Walk a Mile in His Moccasins

The Walk a Mile in His Moccasins quote is often contributed to various indian tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the complete poem.

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe  you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

Seated Woman
Seated Woman
R. C. Gorman
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