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The Five Tribes - United States veterans since 1863

If you were at the Five Tribes Treaty of Peace Celebration this year, you saw a color guard. That's a group of soldiers, often veterans, showing respect by carrying flags, including the United States flag and the POW (Prisoner of War) flag. And if your first thought was "ho-hum, same old thing that every community does on a special occasion", look again. These people are Indians, and they have served the United States since 1863.

If you're like me, and learned about "cowboys and Indians" from old western movies or TV shows, the Five Tribes Treaty makes no sense. I mean, aren't the cowboys supposed to be fighting the Indians? That's what I was taught.

But this was an alliance. The United States military needed the help of the Five Tribes, and the feeling was mutual. They had a common enemy - the Apaches.

Now, waitaminute, this was a long time ago, and the Apaches have not been the enemy of the United States for over 100 years. In fact, neither are the French, the Germans, or the Japanese. You have to take this all in historical context. But it's important to note that the Five Tribes fought along with the United States. They fought against the Apaches, they fought against the Japanese (Google Ira Hayes and you'll see what I mean), they fought against the Viet Cong.

If you've read Farish and McClintock, you know that the Salt River Valley was a war zone, and had been for generations. But there were people who dreamed of peace, of ending the war that had gone on for what seemed like forever. Those people were the Five Tribes, and they did so, with their alliance with the United States. That's over 153 years of service, and that deserves respect.

By the way, the guys in the photo up there, from 1889, may not even have been born yet when the treaty was signed, but they carried on the alliance, which continues to this day.

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