Crossing the Pond: The Native American Effort in World War II

Crossing the Pond: The Native American Effort in World War II

Crossing the Pond: The Native American Effort in World War II

Crossing the Pond: The Native American Effort in World War II


The Swastika Shadow over Native America: John Collier and the American Indian Federation

-- Bringing Them in Alive: Selective Service and Native Americans

-- The Return of the Native: American Indian Laborers

-- The Great Give-Away: Tribal Resources

-- Publicity, Persuasion, and Propaganda: Stereotyping the Native American

-- Across the Blue Waters: The Santa Fe Indian Club

-- Empowering the Veteran: Postwar Civil Rights


"Crossing the Pond" is a term which Native Americans used to describe the process of being transferred overseas for military duty during World War II. This was both an event and a duty taken quite seriously by American Indians who participated in every aspect of wartime America. On the American home front Native Americans gave comparable and sometimes exemplary contributions to civilian defense work, Red Cross drives, and war bond purchases despite a'severe labor shortage on most reservations. Their story, however, reaches far beyond these normal, mainstream activities. Native Americans also resisted a serious propaganda effort by Nazi spies, discovered themselves stereo- typed in the media as uncivilized and exotic, and in return, offered their own views of white society. Finally, American Indians took advantage of the wartime and postwar era to gain political, economic and educational opportunities.

Nevertheless this is not a treatise on assimilation and acculturation. In every respect, Native Americans never lost the view of themselves as Indians and as tribal members. Furthermore the majority of American Indians intended to return to their reservations after the war, where they believed they would participate in "a better America" as the "First Americans." The significance of their participation can be summarized as role modeling. They provided role models not simply for a later generation of American Indians, but also for a generation of non-Indian Americans.

Native American veteran leadership has been largely discounted in the last four decades. Today few people are aware of the contributions made by Native Americans in the war, with the exception of the occasional history buff who has heard of the Navajo Codetalkers. Because of this lack of awareness, Native Americans are still confronted with sterotypes shaped by the white media and corporate America. On a more positive note, however . . .

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