‘The Warrior Tradition’ to air on PBS on Veterans Day

10/16/2019 02:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The one-hour documentary “The Warrior Tradition” tells the stories of Native warriors from their own points of view. It airs at 8 p.m. CST on Nov. 11 on PBS. COURTESY
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Explore the complicated ways the culture and traditions of Native Americans have affected their participation in the U.S. military when “The Warrior Tradition” airs at 8 p.m. CST on Nov. 11 on PBS.

The one-hour documentary, co-produced by WNED-TV Buffalo Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc., tells the stories of Native warriors from their own points of view – stories of service and pain, of courage and fear, according to a press release.

According to the release, “The Warrior Tradition” dispels the duality of the noble savage/helpless victim that has dominated the cultural portrait of Native Americans for more than a century.

“But it’s a more complicated story,” the release states. “Indian warriors have a wide mix of emotions and motives – patriotism, pride, rage, courage, practicality, and spirituality, all mingling with an abiding respect for tribal, familial, and national traditions.’

According to the release, during World War I, not all Native Americans were even citizens of the United States, and couldn’t be drafted, yet more than 12,000 Indian men volunteered. Even in Vietnam, an unpopular war, 90 percent of the 42,000 Native people who served were volunteers, the release states.

“That’s the irony,” Patty Loew (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), a journalism at Northwestern University and a consultant for The Warrior Tradition, said. “Here’s a government that has, at various times, tried to exterminate or assimilate Native Americans, destroy their culture, take their land, and yet here are Native Americans serving in the highest percentages of any race or ethnicity relative to their numbers in the U.S. military.”

According to the release, more than a dozen Native American veterans appear in the film, having served in Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army National Guard. They each have their own reasons for having served and for how the warrior tradition played a role in their lives, the release states.

Among those who share their stories are veterans of wars and conflicts ranging from World War II to ongoing deployments in the Middle East. They are citizens of tribes from all over the United States.

A trailer of the documentary is available at https://www.pbs.org/video/warrior-tradition-trailer-vgnjfi/.

According to the release, pbs.org/warriortradition was created to accompany the documentary. Included on the site are essays expanding on the themes in the documentary; bonus videos; and classroom resources, including seven lesson plans for elementary and intermediate school students. Also on the website are four short, digital videos created by Native filmmakers on the warrior tradition theme.

The films are “Disqualified Warriors” by Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa), “The Protector” by Ramona Emerson (Diné), “Minnie’s Warbonnet” by Yvonne Russo (Lakota), and “Art, Honor & Service” by Caleb G. Abrams (Seneca).

Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation about “The Warrior Tradition” on social media using the hashtag: #WarriorTraditionPBS.

“The Warrior Tradition” will stream for free and will be available on all PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Tizen, and Chromecast. It will also be available on DVD at shop.pbs.org.


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