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Primary Sources: America in World War II

Native Americans in World War II


As many as 25,000 Native Americans in World War II fought actively: 21,767 in the Army, 1,910 in the Navy, 874 in the Marines, 121 in the Coast Guard, and several hundred Native American women as nurses. These figures included over one-third of all able-bodied Native American men aged 18 to 50 and even included as high as seventy percent of the population of some tribes. The first Native American to be killed in WWII was Henry E. Nolatubby from Oklahoma. He was part of the Marine Detachment serving on the USS Arizona and went down with the ship on December 7, 1941. Unlike African Americans or Asian Americans, Native Americans did not serve in segregated units and served alongside white Americans.

Alison R. Bernstein argues that World War II presented the first large-scale exodus of Native Americans from reservations since the reservation system began and that it presented an opportunity for many Native Americans to leave reservations and enter the "white world." For many soldiers, World War II represented the first interracial contact between natives living on relatively isolated reservations. Wikipedia 

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Books - Native Americans in World War II