Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Indigenous Soldier Body Count

I have read and re-read War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003, Anchor Books), by Chris Hedges. This book is a must read for all Indigenous Peoples. Much of what he writes should haunt all of us who are seduced by war's intoxication. Two passages in his book should be especially disturbing to many of our tribal communities that have been socially, politically, economically, and intellectually pushed to the margins of this (American) society and forced to find meaning through the enterprise of war:

"The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. An war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those who have the least meanilng in their lives...are all susceptible to war's appeal (pp. 3-4).

"The myth of war rarely endures for those who experience combat. War is messy, confusing, sullied by raw brutality and an elephantine fear that grabs us like a massive bouncer that comes up from behind. Soldiers in the moments before real battle weep, vomit, and write letters home, although these are done more as a precaution than from belief. All are nearly paralyzed with fright (p. 38)."

The following passage in Hedge's recent essay, The Death Mask of War, illuminates the voices of the Indigenous soldiers that have have been killed and wounded in the U.S.-led war against Iraq:

"Prophets are not those who speak of piety and duty from the pulpit - few people in pulpits have much worth listening to - but it is the battered wrecks of men and women who return from Iraq and speak the halting words we do not want to hear, words that we must listen to and heed to know ourselves. They tell us war is a soulless void. They have seen and tasted how war plunges us to barbarity, perversion, pain and unchecked orgy of death. And it is their testimonies alone that have redemptive power to save us from ourselves."

Chris Hedges, The Death Mask of War (AdBusters, July/August, Vol 15, 4)


IRAQ: U.S. Deaths By Ethnicity

The latest (June 20, 2007) overall bodycount for all U.S. soldiers is 3,525 (an additional 6 deaths are pending confirmation by the Department of Defense for a total of 3,531.

Iraq Casuality Coalition Count reports the following deaths in Iraq up to June 6, 2007:

American Indian/Alaska Native......................37 (1.06%)
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander................37 (1.06%)
Asian...................................................50 (1.43%)
African American....................................332 (9.49%)
Hispanic or Latino...................................376 (10.75%)
Multiple races, pending, or unknown................58 (1.66%)
White............................................... 2,608 (74.56%)

Total......................................................3,498


(http://www.icasualties.org/oif/ETHNICITY.aspx)

2 comments:

Cankpe Opi said...

Waite only 1.06% of over 3500 American Soldier deaths? We are not the highest percentile, oh no what will our communities think of the soldiers returning? Will they call them worthless cowards because they did not die there and carry the indigenous to the highest percentile category? I am being sarcastic, yet sadly some may think I am being genuine and still some may ask "yeah why are we dying less are we cowards"?

Lori Piestewa left 3 wonderful children without a mother yet this is deemed honorable, it is one thing to die fending off intruders into your home and it is another dying for an illegal and unjust war. This is sad and disheartening.

T Carter said...

The body count haunts me to the core, especially since the numbers are growing minute by minute. These “numbers” are human beings—someone’s father, son, mother, daughter, sister, brother, cousin—lost forever to a senseless war. Moreover, thousands of soldiers return severely injured. I travel for work; hence, I witness many severely wounded soldiers returning home on the airplane. Their young lives will never be the same, mentally or physically. I can see it in their eyes. Go to www.washingtonpost.com for photos of the fallen in Iraq. This war is real. It is our responsibility to do what we can.

Thank you Dr. Yellow Bird for taking a brave stand against Iraq, especially concerning the involvement of indigenous people. Your level of concern and compassion shines through in your writing, which helps raise awareness and elevates consciousness. You define a hero!

T Carter
Historian, Researcher,
Activist for Social Justice & Action