Monday, October 22, 2007

"Way of the Warrior"

This sounds like it will be interesting:

As a United States soldier in the second decade of the 20th century, Edward DeNomie chased Pancho Villa and fought in all seven major battles of World War I. He took shrapnel in his ear and lost a lung in a German gas attack. He saw some of his best friends die, all while serving a country of which he was not a citizen.

That is because he — like 12,000 other soldiers who volunteered for military service during World War I — was Native American.

Patty Loew, a veteran television journalist and an associate professor of life sciences communication, has long wondered what motivated men such as DeNomie, who also happens to be her grandfather, to fight for a country that considered them outsiders. Now, she has produced “Way of the Warrior,” a one-hour documentary that will air nationally on the PBS network in November, to explore these questions.

In chronicling the war stories of Native American soldiers from World War I to Vietnam, “Way of the Warrior” offers an interesting counterpart to Ken Burns’ seven-part series, “The War,” which was criticized by some for neglecting the contributions of minority soldiers in World War II. Like Burns, Loew uses historical footage, primary documents and interviews with veterans and their families to relate deeply personal tales of bravery, heroism and loss. But she also probes social stereotypes and aspects of tribal cultures that have made the experiences of Native American soldiers unique.

Because Native Americans were not guaranteed U.S. citizenship until 1924, most Native American soldiers in World War I wore the uniform of a country that did not permit them to vote. Some chose to serve in guard units for a steady income, Loew says, but many others were motivated by tribal values of obligation, service and protection.

About 8 years ago, I met Loew and and I had the opportunity to have a long discussion with her. I was very impressed with her intelligence and her depth of knowledge. I'm sure that this will be a very interesting documentary.

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