"American Indians have had the highest enlistment rate of any minority group since WWI. Over 42,000 served in WWII. Of the 48,000 who served in Vietnam, 90% volunteered. Yet the patriotic service of these Original Americans has been overlooked." (Jeffery Mitchell)
This statement and these facts are what inspired Jeffery Mitchell to research and document this amazing history. He started his journey to photograph and record the oral stories of these gallant veterans in July of 2001.
The First Warrior Experience consisted of framed portraits and stories of the following Native American Veterans:
Horace Axtellâ€¦.Nez Perceâ€¦.ID
Rose Blue Thunderâ€¦.Sicangu Lakotaâ€¦.SD
Raymond Bradyâ€¦.Northern Cheyenneâ€¦.MT
Sidney Eagle Shieldâ€¦.Hunkpapa Lakotaâ€¦.SD
William Gros Ventreâ€¦.Crowâ€¦.MT
Tommy Heavy Runnerâ€¦.Blackfeetâ€¦.MT
Roy & Louise Notahâ€¦.Navajoâ€¦.AZ
Lawrence Tomâ€¦.Northern Uteâ€¦.UT
Clarence Wolf Gutsâ€¦.Oglala Lakotaâ€¦.SD
Along with these we had information and photos of Joshua Sanford, a Wisconsin Native American Veteran. Troy Buddenhagen and Joshuaâ€™s in-laws (the Bertzâ€™s from Loyal, WI) loaned us photos, stories and newspaper articles pertaining to Josh and his service. Did you know the airport in Hillsboro, WI is named after Joshua? It is â€œJoshua Sanford Fieldâ€
The exhibit also paid tribute to Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., a Ho-Chunk Veteran originally from Black River Falls, WI. Corporal Red Cloud was a Medal of Honor Recipient.
Marlon WhiteEagle and Ralph Snake came to The Highground to bless â€œsmudgeâ€ the exhibit before its opening to the public.
On January 16, 2013 several members of the Ho-Chunk Nation joined us for an opening ceremony. Everyone was welcomed by Kirk Rodman, Vol. General Manager, Invocation was given by US Navy Veteran Norman Snake, Jr. US Air Force Veteran Ralph Snake, presented a history of the Ho-Chunk Veterans. The ceremony included the singing of four Native American service songs, while six Ho-Chunk members played the drum and others danced. The day brought special meaning to the exhibit and those who attended.
Jeffery is still working on this project and asks if you know a Native American Veteran please let him know. His contact information is: Jeffery Mitchell 32912 Riverâ€™s Drive Chiloquin, OR 97624, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org, his cell is 541-892-0756.