According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, more than 154,000 American Indians and Alaskan Natives served in the military from 1990 to 2010, out of more than 21.8 million total service members. With a long lineage of service, they have played a vital role in both the military and our country's history.
"We take pride in defending those who can't defend themselves," said 1st Lt. Thomas Bluestone, an Army officer and a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes - Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara. "It's tied to our history of our people. Most all of the males in my family have served. My dad served, all my siblings served, my uncles - they've all served in the armed forces. It's an honor to serve."
November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and a time to reflect on the impact Native Americans have had, not only in the military, but throughout the nation. It is also a chance for others to learn about their traditions and customs. Bluestone urged both his fellow military members and civilians to do this by attending a Native American pow wow.