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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 28, 2001 - Issue 41


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Tribe Salutes 'Rising Star'


 by Larry Di Giovanni Gallup Independent Staff Writer-July 18, 2001

WINDOW ROCK Folks who are as proud of U.S. Army Maj. Tracey Clyde as his own family are Navajo Nation Council delegates. They spent about a half-hour during Tuesday's council session congratulating Clyde and saluting his military accomplishments.

"He (Tracey) is only three ranks away from becoming a general in the U.S. Army," said proud brother Victor Clyde, a tribal prosecutor from Chinle. About a dozen of Tracey Clyde's family members came to tribal Council Chambers to see the council pass a resolution praising his promotions.

Victor Clyde knows the Army's ascending ranks major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, then general and discusses them with his high-achieving brother.

"That's the kind of encouragement we give him," Victor said.

"I'll keep going as long as they keep promoting me," said Tracey Clyde, 34, who was a difficult interview as every minute or two, a tribal delegate or employee would approach to offer a hand shake.

Clyde was promoted from captain to major on Dec. 1, 2000, in Norfolk, Va. The U.S. Army has had at least one Native American general in its history, but to Clyde's knowledge none who has been Navajo.

Born and raised in Shiprock and a 1985 Shiprock High School graduate, Clyde graduated from the Army's West Point Academy in 1989. Clyde works out of the Pentagon's Army Watch Program in Washington. Its staff keeps the Army's chief of staff informed as to all Army operations.

Speaking before the council, Clyde praised the tribe's educational system and its teachers. He attended Head Start in Crystal, and spent much of his youth in Sweetwater, Ariz., where he helped his grandfather herd sheep.

"That helped prepare me for all of the foot marches you have to do in the Army," he said.

During Operation Desert Storm, Clyde remained in the states, an artillery platoon leader in Fort Sill, Okla. His platoon was in charge of keeping watch over a Lance nuclear missile.

Tracy's mother, Stella Clyde, lives in Shiprock. A second brother, Virgil Clyde, is from Gallup. Sisters Sylvia and Josephine also attended Tuesday's council recognition, as did an aunt, Alice Norton, and several nieces and nephews. Clyde's father is the late Joe Clyde of Sweetwater.

Clyde's wife, Shelly, an Army captain, was unable to attend.

Clyde's resolution sponsor was Delegate Robert Whitehorse (Aneth/Red Mesa/Mexican Water chapters). Clyde received a blanket with the Navajo seal, and handed out U.S. Army-insignia portfolio bags and a gym bag to Whitehorse and other delegates who recognized him.

Maps by Travel

American Indians in the Military

  • During the Revolutionary War both the British and Colonists approached the Indians, urging that they remain neutral. At first they sided with the British. However, by 1781, British control waned. - The Chickasaw Indians were the only ones who were consistent in support of the British.
  • During the War of 1812, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh offered his services to the Americans but they refused to accept them. He then became a brigadier general in the British Army.
  • Native Americans fought during the Civil War for both the Union and Confederate Armies. Some fought in special Indian units and others were mixed in with regular units.
  • During the Civil War, the 3d Indian Regiment gained distinction and was the last to quit fighting.
  • During the Civil War, many Indians were commissioned as officers. Two examples were Brigadier General Stand Watie and Colonel Peter Pitchlyan, a Cherokee and a Choctaw, who commanded troops on the side of the Confederacy.
  • In 1866, following the Civil War, the War Department established the U.S. Indian Scouts as part of the enlisted ranks. By 1867, there were approximately 474 Indians serving. During the "Indian Wars," which continued until about 1900, the U.S. Government was trying to wrest control of the western frontier from the Indians. The government soon realized that it would have to recruit Indians to fight against Indians. They had the right skills for the battle.
  • In 1866, Red Cloud won a war with the United States. He stands alone in history as the only chief to ever accomplish this.
  • In 1891, the Secretary of War ordered that one company of Indians should be recruited for each 26 regiments of White cavalry west of the Mississippi. Enlistment was slow, in part due to Indian objections. However, the major obstacle to their enlistment was the attitude of the White officers who considered the Indians inferior. General Hugh L. Scott characterized the situation by stating:

"One problem with having Regular Indian military companies was that Whites would not serve under Indian NCO's. . . It seems a remarkable thing that British officers could make efficient soldiers of Egyptians, who had been slaves for three thousand years, but American officers could not make soldiers out of Indians who had fought successfully for a long period, and who, when suitably armed and mounted, were the best light horsemen in the world. - By 1915, only 24 Indian Scouts were left on active duty."

  • 17,000 Indians registered for the military in World War I, but only 8,000 actually got inducted.
  • At the beginning of World War II, there were over 25,000 Indians in the military. With the call-up of National Guard and Reserve units, many more were mobilized.
  • The 158th Regiment, a Mexican-American and Indian unit, was extremely combat effective, and one of the most highly decorated World War II units.
  • PFC Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian, was one of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.
  • The Marines used Navajo, and other Indian, troops in signal units to send code in their own language. Theirs was the only code never deciphered by the enemy.
  • During World War II, Native-Americans won 71 Air Medals, 51 Silver Stars, 47 Bronze Stars, 34 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and two Medals of Honor.
  • World War II provided new skills for the 70,000 Indians who left the reservations for the first time to enter military service or defense industries.
  • 41,500 Indian men served in Vietnam.
  • The most decorated Indian soldier of the Vietnam War was Billy Walkabout, a Cherokee, who won the Distinguished Service Cross, five Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, and was wounded on six occasions. -
  • In 1984, the Veterans Administration estimated that approximately 74,900 Indians received VA benefits equaling $15 million annually.
  • In 1990, Native Americans constituted 0.6 percent of the Department of Defense military forces. This was a slight decline from the 1982 representation of 0.7 percent. Native American representation in the officer ranks was 0.4 percent.
  • In l990, overall representation of Native Americans was slightly higher in the Coast Guard (1.0 percent). However, only 0.2 percent of Coast Guard officers are Native American.

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