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The story of Native American military service is lengthy and complex. Scholars have been divided about the merits of studying this topic, since the relationship of Native peoples to the U.S. federal government in general, and the American armed forces in particular, is not always a proud one. Yet Native peoples have fought for, as well as against, the United States since the days of the colonial Indian wars. Public fascination with this service has grown in recent years, with the celebration of the World War II–era Navajo code talkers. This entry examines that process of interaction and conflict and offers some thoughts on the motives and contributions that Native societies have made to America’s fighting forces.

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Native Americans often have been represented in the ...

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