America's First Warriors: Native Americans and Iraq

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"Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." ~Tecumseh, Shawnee chief "The definition of a warrior for Native Americans has basically remained the same since pre-Columbian times. A warrior is the protector of his people. Strength, honor, pride, devotion, wisdom and spiritual toughness are required to fulfill that duty. Coincidentally, Native American warrior code is similar to the code of the U.S. Army." ~Steven Clevenger

For more than three decades, Steven Clevenger has photographed America's wars. In October 2006, Clevenger began a three year project following Native American soldiers into war in Iraq and back home again. He wanted to document the warrior tradition, the war experience and to reveal the cultural acceptance accorded native warriors of their military service. In 2006 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Clevenger attended a yellow-ribbon welcoming home ceremony near Albuquerque for the New Mexico National Guard men and women. Clevenger was embedded with these and other Native American military in Iraq in 2007 and 2009. While there, he captured the subtleties and complexities of wartime both for Native American soldiers and the Iraqi people whose shattered lives are a poignant counterpoint to the embracing culture found in the native communities.


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