thumbnail of Indian country; The Indian at war
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
This is engine country recorded educational radio presentation produced by the University of Denver under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcast. This is a story told by Indians in their own words and by those who know India as well. A study of the American Indian in a modern world which has surrounded him and changed his ancient way of life. A story brought to you by tape recordings made largely on Navajo and soon reservation the driver than I was by our guides in the country. Dr. Ruth M. Underhill professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Denver author and internationally respected authority on her favor. Subject The American Indian on the second program in the series Dr. Underhill will talk about the end of war and the changes and problems war has brought him.
Dr. Ruth Underhill this glimpse into Indian country is a story of what happened to Indians in the war. I'll introduce it by some words from Ray Whiting a young Sioux he had told me that many of his comrades were leaving the reservation and going to live in the white world. As that happened mostly since the war do you think. Yes I feel except more since the Second War and the young boys that have been in the service and seen with the white man's world is like I want to get out and make their own name. I just write about his military service. You can see that the training and experience it gave him couldn't have been had on a reservation at any price. Well I was in the Marine Corps. I joined in 1051 January 1951 just before the Korean War. And I got my training in Bago San Diego that is the Marine base there and then I went to an Intelligence School in Seattle Seattle Washington and I went to the police academy in Los Angeles and I get stationed with an intelligence unit the Marine Air Base Sandman and then I got shipped overseas to Korea during the war I spent 14 months there and I was wounded and shipped back to the United States no state
with a military police unit in Nebraska and until the time I got discharged. Race training was useful. He's now a deputy sheriff near Denver. He deals more with white men than Indians he tells me. Now listen to the travelogue of the Navajo Byron Center Jenny. He came from a no flawed hut in western Arizona. He had some schooling but his parents are none at all and spoke only Navajo. Yes Byron story. And it will color a little about that where you went what regiment were the. First one will be the year and then there are straight. There there we stayed there. New Guinea. You were everywhere. So. Why did you do in New Guinea. We'll take that before we get there. We don't go back.
74. We shall return. And so you did. Well did you see much fighting on the island. Yes ma'am. Tell us about it. Well. We've been. Going back and forth on this. New Britain. For 26 days it was about. We've been having. Every day every night. So yes you should. Be under pressure like that for 26 days you will. Find yourself. What condition you be. Willing to tell me what happened and stay there too long like a lot of action on Stanley for over. Three days in the front line and that was it. Go where you implicitly said it. Well. And been. Wounded and through. Back to the. Land here. And that's.
Where You Are All Right now I want you to get over it. How do you feel it going abroad like that really changed your feelings about how you want to live. I guess we did. That was. The time when. The. 20s and 30s. The kind of the changing you know that and the change I think the two men we have heard are now in good health but only Reyna of Taos New Mexico nearly ruined his health for life. He shared with white boys in the ghastly retreat from the town. Why spend the time behind barbed wires. What you did really. Tony had volunteered for the army like many white boys in New Mexico. He gave up a good position to do it but he was already teaching arts and crafts in the Albuquerque Indian school. But after you know when I can. I volunteer for one year in which I was sent to one place with basic
training and in one place they transferred me into the 200 artillery which was sent to the Philippines in 1941 on the 10 and they were taken prisoner by the Japanese. I can't can't manage a war on and in a fall in 1942 we were part of rush hour traffic to Manchuria Manchuria D A By the way well a mismanagement of us and they went mostly Indians what next. Mostly didn't. Know Mexico as yet so they could be about it. Right but in the end then we don't have a lot of women in a group here at the Port of Los Tony's Indian group were peaceful people who never thought unless they had to so they say. So here's the listing before being drafted was a real act of
patriotism and loyalty. Very different where the Sioux warriors for 200 years. For them the war was a man's normal business and talking over war exploits was a cheap entertainment so there wasn't much persuasion needed to get Ask a baronet or tell about the war. You wish to know what the SOS did without someone heroes questions. There's one going from here. Stated the following hare he was captured at a wake and he was in that forced march. Own this. Yeah well yes and also. He's a prisoner of war and there's not a boy. His name is Eugene role here the boss called Shane you there are prisoner of war are still there in the hands of Jap and they went through torture but that they came back home safe and same way and Europe who are some of these boys are
the Chester meals he's from Porcupine. He's on that pest patrol and he was a hero here. Just say I'm glad of that patrol and his two buddies of mine are shot and he was on one holding his own in the hold on a regiment. Just hear the machine gun. So that's what the union boys could do it out there right in there. One other boy it was a raid I was taught it was torn to pieces but he lived through it. Well there's a lot of things and so do you Mr. Talib with the Sioux A man was expected to tell of his war exploits the more of them. He had the more he was looked up to as ask you told your story I could almost see the warriors sitting around the camp fire while each endure instructor pool and told why he should have the right to paint his horse and wear on their feathers. That's what I did. No. That's how fast I make that trip across four months and happen I was there
twenty two months ago and happened ier European theater of operation. Children used to use a really heavy suit. Oh yes this was in time of war. And I've been to Harlem a place of interest so fonder. Oh my General Omar Bradley the general plank and under General Eisenhower right under their command. Now what are you really do. Yes I went to Europe in a theater of operation and some of the boys went to the southwest for safety. If some want to learn China and India and Burma and some went to Japan. So where are scattered from here and the Navajos missiles they represent the largest. Population of Indians that ever participate with the US armed forces. And I both have done a wonderful. Theme for the
United States. I want America such as what we that never well understand and your people here will never know. To God give us sign language. And me the same languages translate it it turned it into Bible Dictionary. So at the nut house where one one the Sioux used the language and sending out secret documents over to the other nine in the world want to the not always did. So that confuses Japs and we're wired. To erupt this soon as they did the same thing with the Nazis are the Germans and so I guess we've done our part. There are no is quite right. So many Instead before me unique service by giving messages in their own language across enemy lines with a walkie talkie or two way radio Indian languages have grammar and sounds completely different from European and
Japanese. They formed a code that no enemy could crack. That service has become famous wherever Army exploits are talked about along with the honors and decorations we see by Indians. It's gone far to give the red men a sense of really sharing an American life. Perhaps that comes out most strongly when we watch the play of schoolchildren on the street in Santa Fe New Mexico about that game I never thought that I did. You know you said you have grown how you are made out of OK. You can't fire them going you know. Well we're beat. So the. Americans are with a room. Yes. Americans always win in the opinion of white citizens. But some of the red men feel that they are not included in the new prosperity. Ask a bear on the very articulate Sue had plenty to say on that.
To begin with I think G.I. out of the 40 mark. I never want to do that. I volunteer most of the boys have done. We're not a paid up world were not afraid for a. What he calls his through Selective Service Board there. If they could get you out my department why are most of the invoice I just went volunteer and went so I did and when I went in there they said were entirely under the G.I. Bill of Rights and we could see where we have the right much as say our white. Brother our white neighbor. So we went we took the same oath sworn in the same time fought side by side shared together during the time of war. But after the war. The Indian returned back to his own country and he was a scene all India that he started on he was discriminated we thought we
were the first class American city. We couldn't even go into some public places I've been to places where there is I have seen actually signed put up there on the door or window. No Indians allowed no Indian traits listed. So all we just forgot about everything and we try to get on his ACT. It's AIDS in Africa as a but we're not even tired and. So therefore we just state this scene as we like well you know sometimes I don't know there must be some provision one through the year and Veteran Administration when we can't. You can get an average of a little nor none of us up to this date so some of us are boys or even boys I have a lot of glad for the owners I have housing today with our family but none of our boys are still most of the boys are still. They're married and they need housing in steel. Well the problem is that it's a question mark. It's
just it's ridiculous. He's absolutely not good. Well just consider annoying. And we don't know what it meant to people as a whole. Glenn L. Emmons the present Indian commission it doesn't the bulldust go on that you statement is that there is no discrimination and that Indians can get a loan if they are good prospects. Dr Underhill that are loans available to an Indian just same as non-Indians in the past. We have taken the position that and the UN could. Mortgages and eventual Trust property. For the purposes of the loan. But it wasn't really close or the Congress recently cleared that up a passion a bill. Which now enables and to mortgage his trust property in order to get a loan.
As far as curing FHA loans and I presume you meant for business loans. Yes I think. The record of FHA G.I. business loans has not them. Always 100 percent. Good to non-Indian people. They endian people. Very few of them having had an additional six parents but that fact had to be taken in consideration. But any Indian in a locality where I imagine that he is known by the banking people. Would consider. The possible. Chances of success on his part of the business phone list my ad does same as any other individual. So the trouble is not that he's an Indian but that his business but I don't seem to justify the load. But. But the
anger now mortgage has trashed property. But you're alone and that is really a very generous move since the property doesn't actually belong to him but to the government is allowed to merge around the garden a long way to the government the government as merely the trust for his property. So Mr. Ammons is trying to put Indians on the very same basis as whites. They can get a loan if they show that they can make good use of it. This is a very different attitude from what the Indians have been used to in the tribal life way that was help for the lazy and industrious both the good and the bad all the same. The group needed its men and it would do anything for any of them. Now when the Indian is asked to be an individual and deliver the goods as it why he's puzzled George white people and middle aged who was in two world wars ran up against this. I asked him about his prospects. Tell us a little bit about your work. Where did you go from there. Well do I too. But first want to say that France
had it as a fresh water. This is what I mean again. But I didn't go overseas. Kind of my age. I just stayed on the step where were you. Oh I was in Denver for schooling the business course and then I went to Florida. I was there pretty much the time that I went to Port Dix New Jersey. Well it honors had a business because you were to be jobs that you could get. Yes. You don't want to do you never apply for it because I I don't have too much interest in the work of a business like typing. The fact is the white man's G.I. benefits are not planned help Indians White was bitter about that. And then on a ruling they're supposed to be job bill of rights for the armed forces that includes all people of color. You
need to know about the way we stand. We haven't had time to benefit any of that I guess we get schooling but not too much cash on loan from any banker. One would have to have securities wrote in you have a pension do you. I don't qualify for cash and I tell I'm 65 years old. I'm 69. So you don't get any assistance or do you know any kind you know. I expect there are rules about security very reasonable indeed to the white men but right off the map for Indians they have been taught to take from the government and wait for instructions. Now they're expected to strike out on their own. They've been told what giving security means and what they might do but it's all very foreign. They're waiting for Uncle Sam to tutor and guide them. And white buildings is no use. That's not how I want to say Senator
Gravel without an advantage the second way I had noticed was that yes and that's because you haven't know it from the government. No and that's that's the condition they are balancing and I said that I wanted to get away from this. What shipping free can you like do what you will. Ask a bear runner groups of white ball. BEROWNE I would like to stay on the reservation but has already been told that he's a bad risk. I had suggested that he could leave the reservation and make a new start but he said I have a home and family here and don't want to leave only my reservation and I'm just I'm with you on it docks. That's what I use when I'm mad about something that is. Gee I guess we can get the candy and get on with the Federal Housing Administration Act I say so are we can get no help from no other source.
Well Justice Plano Indian back to the good old country. So that's why every time I come to. I guess when I was an underdog whether their runner is right and his feeling is shared by many guys white and Indian. When a person feels frustrated insecure and discouraged a sure way to drop the whole load is by drinking plenty of white boys have succumb to this temptation since the war but bewilderment for the Indian has been even greater. Up to 1947 there was a federal law against selling liquor to Indians. It was a law passed over 100 years ago at the request of Indians themselves their chiefs felt they couldn't handle the results of this strange Bywater. After the war though it became ridiculous for Indians not to be able to drink with their G.I. buddies. The law was repealed. The Indians still don't want like us sold on the reservation. Well one white official told me We'll have to have better blood for a while.
It hasn't been as bad as that but when I asked Chief the foyer of the Gallup police he had to admit the Navajos do like alcohol. Yes there have. Been Better drink. Like any other race only more people. It would seem rather convincing Thank you. Still I haven't compared it with a number of drunks in your precinct on a Saturday night. I look for alcoholics along the road as I travel down at the trading post. Here is my conversation with one from Laguna
Pueblo village near the Navajo reservation. Better get going here and I think I can find. The network you know. I know that by now but having. My family I can never be a friend of those who was also having a ride in the white people's car explained him can't get a job and don't know stay nowhere. We must admit that the big change which came with the war has been too upsetting for some Indians. It seems to me perhaps no more than might be expected when restraints are let down a new horizons open. White people have never counted the casualties left
along the way when their ancestors rushed to settle the plains out to dig gold in Alaska. It seems to me time we stop talking about Indians as if they were one solid ness all behaving just the same like other people have good ones and bad ones. We can strong Patrick Nelson of the Navajo law enforcement agency think that mastering these new circumstances will take time. I asked him you do think that some of this comes from a sense of frustration in not being able to get on the white way of life and manage it. I think you're right. Especially with our younger generation. For instance I was called to the color of military service. They immediately are thrust into a wholly and totally foreign way of living life and they are a
small group sure shine only in an outfit where they don't have any companionship with their fellow people. I think that you would find frustration. Trying to find relief in other words there are not there nattering and you know why they're there left in the middle or someplace. I think that's going to take a number of years of education. Richard Russia of all people think that you know when it's going to be overcome and is probably right but we don't need to stop on that discouraging note there were plenty of boys who found themselves in the war in a way they never could have done within the narrow limits of reservation life. Ray Whiting one of the successful ones with clear about that when I talk to him do you do you think that they really made a great difference in Indian point of view.
I really got the boys out made them see what could be done. I really think it has missed heal itself. Giving a guy a chance to mix with people that he had never met before you meet negroes and the Orientals and. Most every kind of person you'd want to meet where you would meet him on a reservation and you see their different outlooks and point of life and you see the progress they've made when actually I don't believe they were. Centuries ago they were any better off than we were but they've managed to make progress where the Indians have. And you see what can be done with an education which some of the Indians didn't believe that's Joe Herrera the schoolteacher who said the same. And you tell me what really changed your idea of how to live what you know on experiences and yes my contacts in the Army a great deal.
My wife and I study by Dr. Boyce the principal of the big Navajo school summed it up. We frequently had Navajo military services and women. And across the Pacific who would write back to Bay and. Say I had some schooling but I didn't have enough I'm having a hard time when you go out to my Hogan and make my brother and my sister come to school. And many others who went away to work in more industries would come back and say you know I noticed that the white man gets a house near the school if he can. So his children can come to school and I noticed this and I noticed that about the white man. And that's a great leaven brought with the one. So they use their own minds on this subject. They saw it. Yeah yeah how about the Navajo. Did they all get jobs and had
they become members of the community. As far as I know they're now a veteran who's taken care of himself. They weren't all able to take advantage of the G.I. benefits for more education. But I don't know of any veteran myself. Who was physically able who isn't self-supporting either on the job on a reservation because where there is a job for him. Or off the reservation and many other plans and certainly perhaps our best analogy comes from Tony right now. Of couse in spite of three and a half years as a war prisoner and an illness which will never be quite cured Tony is a successful businessman. This was our conversation. It was a strenuous experience and you had that very lucky. We wanted it back because
we like to have our regiment. Yeah I read that America was lucky to have an Indian that could help but if I had way. Back service. You've just heard Indian country and the second of a series of The God of programs featuring Dr. Ruth Underhill author I thought of the thought I think of the American Indian. Next time Indian country deals with the changes today of the Indians ancient way of life. Indian country was produced by the University of Denver. I was a grant from the educational television and radio set for this program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcast. This is the Radio Network.
Indian country
The Indian at war
Producing Organization
University of Denver
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-2v2ccw28).
Episode Description
This program, "The Indian at War," looks at military service among Native Americans.
Series Description
The problems of social adjustment in the attitudes and through the words of the modern American Indian.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Interviewee: Whiting, Ray
Interviewee: Bear Runner, Oscar
Interviewee: Reyna, Tony
Interviewer: Underhill, Ruth, 1883-1984
Producing Organization: University of Denver
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-51-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:01
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Indian country; The Indian at war,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Indian country; The Indian at war.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Indian country; The Indian at war. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from