Five years later, she decided to step down as the Desert Era Veterans commander and join the Lakota Women Warriors, which started in 2014 at the Black Hills Powwow in Rapid City, South Dakota. She said it helped to be around other female veterans.
"The women's group formed to show their empowerment and strength by coming together as women who have served in the military," explained DeCoteau. "We became mentors to the youth in our communities, sharing our military experiences and information about suicide prevention. We come from all over, different walks of life and different tribes. We travel nationally and internationally as spokespeople and show our support with the honor guard group. I just felt it's really important that we show who we are to the people and also a little bit of information of what the military has to offer."
Over her years with the Lakota Women Warriors, she has been the head woman veteran dancer in New York, and has brought the colors in for NFL and WNBA games, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos, and Professional Bull Riders events, as well as numerous national and international powwows.
"I felt like these ladies saved me," continued DeCoteau. "I no longer felt alone as a woman veteran because in the military and in veteran organizations, no matter where you go, women are always outnumbered. Being with these ladies has been a real delight because we have that sister-bond like you get when you're in the military. We always have each other's backs; we can always count on them to be there in our time of need, or when we just need that extra shoulder to lean on. Being in the military, I have built bonds that I know will be there for a lifetime."
Author's Note: I, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anita Chebahtah Newman, am full-blooded Native American. My mom is Arapaho and my dad is Comanche, both from Oklahoma. This is part three of a multi-part series about Native American culture and its many ties to the military. Read part one here and part two here.