User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


27° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

Cemetery Honors Native American Veterans

November 11, 2012, 9:57 PM by Derek Olson

Cemetery Honors Native American Veterans
ROSEBUD, SD -

Freedom isn't free.  To veterans all across the country, it's more than just a catchy phrase. It represents sacrifices made to protect our way of life.

Sacrifice is something that Rosebud Sioux tribal member and Army veteran Eldon Redfish knows well.

"I spent about eight years in the Army.  I reenlisted once, spent two tours in Vietnam and a year in Korea," Redfish said.

"The draft didn't really make a difference to us. It was part of our culture to serve," RST Veterans Affairs Director and Vietnam veteran Orlando Morrison Sr. said.

The same is true for Donovan George, who recently returned from a year long tour in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.  George kept a tribal flag with him throughout the deployment.

"I just had it with me for my comfort and for my tribe, here.  I had it all over northern Afghanistan," George said.

The tradition of military service runs deep across Indian Country.  Native Americans serve at the highest rate per capita out of any ethnic group.  In fact, there are around 4,000 military veterans enrolled in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

"Going to college, going to the workforce or whatever were not as easy to do.  Going to the service was a natural type of thing," Redfish said.

But those opportunities aren't the only reason why so many Native people choose to fight for our country.

"It was an honor to serve, and a lot of the other Natives here feel the same way," Morrison Sr. said.

"Our people have always been warriors, so going into the service is kind of a natural thing to do," Redfish said.

"It's just built in us.  Maybe it's genetic or hereditary? I don't know what it is but it's there and it's always going to be there," George said.

One of the promises made to military veterans is the honor of being buried in a military cemetery.  But the Black Hills National Cemetery is more than 200 miles from Rosebud.

"Really, we only have one option right now, which is in Sturgis, and I think a lot of veterans would've liked to have been buried there and their families to be buried there," Redfish said.

Soon, there will be a much closer option for military veterans and their families thanks to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Veterans Cemetery, which is located on the reservation south of White River.

The project was made possible by a $7,000,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  It's the first tribal veterans cemetery in the country.

"This will be the first tribe in the nation to go after this grant and get it," Morrison Sr. said.

The grant pays the cost of the tribal cemetery's construction, which is well ahead of its scheduled completion date of Memorial Day of 2013.

"The winter didn't slow them down too much.  That's why we're here today at 75 to 80-percent complete," Morrison Sr. said.

When finished, the tribal cemetery will be in the shape of a turtle, one of the most important symbols in Lakota Culture.

"It'll be a beautiful place and an honor to be buried there," Redfish said.

There are already 600 crypts in place at the cemetery with room for more.  For many veterans, it's assuring to know that when the time comes, they will be honored forever in their homeland.

"It's more than just a comfort.  It's peace of mind for my individual family and for the relatives here," George said.

"This is our land, our home, and to be able to be buried there and also to have the honor of being buried in a national cemetery, I mean, everything just comes together," Redfish said.

Tribal veterans that have completed a required amount of time in active duty service will be eligible to be buried at the cemetery.

Officials with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge have also received a tribal cemetery grant from the Veterans Administration.  Construction is set to begin there next summer.

Previous Story

Next Story


Comments







Sponsored
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

Dakota State's 'Animal House'

12/14/2014 10:05 PM

A new campus housing project is taking flight at Dakota State University in Madison.

Full Story | Watch
Social Media's Dark Side

12/16/2014 10:08 PM

The connection to our electronic devices is stronger than ever before, and that bond will only grow as technology continues to develop.  As new a...

Full Story | Watch
Sports Complex Growing Fast

12/12/2014 10:00 PM

The Sanford Sports Complex in northwest Sioux Falls is only a few years old but changes at the location have been continuous.

Full Story | Watch
The South Dakota Death Penalty Debate

12/17/2014 9:59 PM

The debate over the death penalty in South Dakota is heating up again. After considering a full repeal last year, lawmakers are mulling more restricti...

Full Story | Watch
Answering The Call: The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House

12/15/2014 10:14 PM

Bishop Paul Swain is a beloved part of the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, but as he shows off the new Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, one starts to wo...

Full Story | Watch


Events