A concise, moving history of American Indian military service.
The book opens with a burning, difficult question that both enlivens and haunts the pages that follow: â€œWhy have American Indians served, and why do they continue to serve, a government that has betrayed and broken promises to native peoples for multiple generations?” Robinson and Lucas let their question breathe, and allow the actions of this story’s heroes–from Geronimo and Chief Joseph to the late Lori Ann Piestewa, a Hopi soldier killed in Iraq in 2003–speak for themselves. These narratives form an amazing record of self-discovery and political courage, one in which people forcibly divested of their land and traditions continue to look for their place in the sometimes violent, sometimes hopeful history of the United States. The book’s authors initially intended for their project to be a television documentary, and it is easy to imagine the work as a smart hour of public television. Robinson and Lucas are not academically trained and military historians and scholars of native America won’t find much here that is new (although the authors do provide a bibliography). Interested readers will, however, find a wonderful and compendious account of American Indian military service from the colonial period to the present. One only wishes that the project might be reissued in a larger format, one that could take advantage of the rich photographic and historical record that the book’s authors have so diligently aggregated. In the meantime, the book is a nice, engaging read.
Recommended reading for anyone curious about American military and Native American history.