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The North American Indian in the World War, map by the Office of the Adjutant-General of the Army, July 1925

More than 12,000 American Indians served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War I. This map, produced by the Army after the war, shows American Indian participation, graves, and military decorations awarded in France and Belgium.

Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

The North American Indian in the World War, map

Granting Citizenship to American Indians

On June 2, 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, which was also known as the Snyder Act. It was named after the bill’s sponsor, Representative Homer P. Snyder of New York. The act granted citizenship to all American Indians born in the United States. American Indians had volunteered and served in World War I in large numbers, and citizenship was seen in part as a reward for their military service. At the time, 125,000 out of an estimated population of 300,000 American Indians were not U.S. citizens.

I am an Indian and never had any Experience in a war before, but I realize that I was doing my duty as a patriot and was fighting to save Democracy and do hope that in the future we Indian’s may Enjoy freedom which we Indian’s are always denied.

Joe High Elk, Cheyenne River Sioux, List of Indians in the World War Questionnaire, ca. 1919–1920