'The Warrior Tradition' Highlights the Service of Native Americans in the U.S. Military

Rick and Christina Gables
Courtesy of NARA

Explore the complicated ways the culture and traditions of Native Americans have affected their participation in the United States military when The Warrior Tradition airs on Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11 on PBS. The one-hour documentary tells the stories of Native American warriors from their own points of view.

The Warrior Tradition dispels the old duality of the noble savage/helpless victim that has dominated our cultural portrait of Native Americans for more than a century. But it’s a more complicated story.

Indian warriors have a wide mix of emotions and motives – patriotism, pride, rage, courage, practicality, and spirituality, all mingling with an abiding respect for tribal, familial, and national traditions.

Courtesy of NARA

More than a dozen Native American veterans appear in the film, having served in Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army National Guard. They each have their own reasons for having served and for how the warrior tradition played a role in their lives.

Courtesy of NARA

Among those who share their stories are veterans of wars and conflicts ranging from World War II to ongoing deployments in the Middle East.

They are members of tribes from all over the United States, including the Comanche and Apache Tribes of Oklahoma, the Mississippi Choctaw, Navajo Nation, and the Menominee, among many others.

The Warrior Tradition, Premiere, Monday, November 11, 9/8c, PBS (Check your local listings)