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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard joins the Nation in observing American Indian Heritage Month

One definition of a Soldier is warrior, but what is the definition of a warrior?

war·rior: a person skilled in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based society that recognizes a separate warrior class

The traditions and values of an American Indian warrior run parallel to those of a Soldier This direct correlation may be why American Indians have the highest record of service per capita, according the Department of Defense's website

"American Indians have proudly worn our nation's uniform in every one of our conflicts American Indians-per capita-have had the highest percentage of their people in military service, exceeding every American ethnic group," said Ben Nighthorse Campbell, former Colorado Senator and Cheyenne Korean War veteran

Sgt Anthony Pike, served with the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division based in Stillwater, Minn, and recently retired after more than 21 years of military service He is also a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, working for their Public Works Department and volunteering for the Iskigamizigan Powwow Committee

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Pike, along with other veterans from the band, were honored during the 45th Annual Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Powwow at the Iskigamizigan Powwow Grounds, Onamia, Minn on Aug 19-21, 2011 More than 800 dancers participated and approximately 5,000 people attended the powwow

In American Indian communities, warriors are recognized at ceremonies, such as powwows, for their bravery and courage to fight and defend their homeland

"Our veterans and those on active duty give added meaning to the web of life that we value as Ojibwe people They are trying to protect the unbroken circle of life, even as they put their own lives at risk," said Marge Anderson, Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

When Pike thinks of what it means to be a warrior, he remembers the native word, "ogichidaa"

"The definition is one who protects and follows the way of the warrior, and with that there are seven teachings that I have grown up with They are love, respect, honesty, humility, wisdom, courage and truth," said Pike

These teachings are similar to the Army's seven values; loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honesty, integrity and personal courage It's not difficult to see how serving in the military can help a warrior develop the inner strength and courage that is valued in American Indian communities

"Sometimes we take for granted our ability to celebrate with family and friends, to practice our cultural traditions, and to honor nature and our ancestors," said Anderson, "But, our freedom to do these things is not just given, it is fought for These men and women have put their lives on the line for us"

Pike doesn't get caught up on what he's done for his tribe, but he speaks more about what his tribe has done for him

"Some of the values that my tribe has taught me is to honor and respect everyone we meet, always hold your head high and be proud of who you are "¦ a Native American and a Soldier in the US Armed Forces," said Pike

He is a true warrior, indeed

20 Aug, 2011
Story and photos by Sgt Dajon N Ferrell
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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