Great Plains Studies, Center for



Janne Lahti

Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Great Plains Quarterly 30:3 (Spring 2010).


Copyright © 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


This book celebrates the military contributions of American Indians in United States wars. It is a fluently written, although mainly descriptive, overview of American Indian participation stretching from the American Revolution to the present War on Terrorism. Visually, everything is stunning; the illustrations are numerous and impressive. At the beginning the narrative sufficiently describes some of the main events of various conflicts and Native participation, but as the book progresses closer to the present day the often very interesting personal stories of American Indian soldiers take much more space, so much that they seem to leave too little room for the general description of the wars (causes, major battles, or end results). Throughout, the book explains Native willingness to enlist as a consequence of warrior tradition and patriotism. Although military profession has an important role in the heritage and culture of many tribes, a critical reader wanting to dig deeper into the psyche of American Indian soldiers might think that this explanation is too simplistic. Also, some readers might dislike the book's sometimes overtly patriotic tone. There is very little on the horrors and injustices of war and hardly anything critical on some of the most controversial recent wars, like Vietnam or Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, war comes out primarily as an honorable and positive undertaking.