Native Americans Volunteer for WWI
Life on reservations was difficult for Native Americans prior to the war due to low levels of development and lack of economic opportunities. In 1939, the median income for Native American males living on reservations was $500, compared to the national average for males of $2300. Nearly one-quarter of Native Americans at this time had no formal education, and even for high school graduates, few forms of conventional employment existed on reservations. In the absence of conventional employment, those Native Americans who stayed on the reservations generally worked the land and farmed.
Although Native Americans were not drafted for World War I because they were not considered citizens of the United States as of 1917, approximately 10,000 Native American men volunteered for duty in World War I.
Native American men were included along with whites in the World War II draft. Initial reactions by Native Americans to the draft were mixed. While some were eager to join the military, others resisted. Some argue that due to their still questionable status as citizens of the United States at the outbreak of the second world war, many Native Americans questioned volunteering for military service, as “the Federal government had the power to force Indians to serve in the military but did not have the power to compel Mississippi to grant Indians the vote”. Although some resisted the draft, many others who were not drafted volunteered for the war.
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