SD -- In preparation for Veterans Day, the Lower Sioux Tribe of Morton, Minn., recently presented the Gordon S.
Weston Post 6597 here with an eagle staff commemorating the 38 American Indians executed in 1862.
The 23 member Indian Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Flandreau represents an intertribal group of veterans that
also created the American Indian Veteran's Association.
The eagle staff is used in ceremonies and represents the 38 Mdewakantons who were executed at Mankato, Minn., on
Dec. 26, 1862, shortly after the Minnesota Sioux Uprising. The uprising included several clashes between whites
and Indians and drove many settlers out of Dakota Territory.
"It was called a conflict by some, but I feel it was a war and looking back on it now I don't feel it was
a worthy cause," said post member Sam Allen.
The Flandreau post responds to tribes' requests to participate in reburials. They rarely refuse.
They also serve as a color guard and prayed during the reburial of Yankton Sioux whose remains were uncovered near
Lake Francis Case.
Veteran's Day prompts many post members' memories of their service in the United States military.
Martin Bernard from Sisseton Wahpeton Tribe was a medic in the 199 Light Infantry Brigade in the U.S. Army during
the Vietnam War. For him, service was both honorable and troubling.
"I didn't feel that I could do enough for (the soldiers) and that bothers me still today," Bernard said.
Bernard is an active post member and finds participating in the "Wiping of The Tears Ceremony" during
Pow Wows has helped cope with old memories.
The anti-Vietnam War sentiment that greeted many returning veterans still troubles Bernard.
He contends the Indian community did a better job than the United States as a whole in welcoming the soldiers back
"We went home to our reservations and they respected and honored us with ceremonies," said Bernard.
The Flandreau post was founded March 24, 1946 as the Gordon S. Weston Post No. 6597 Indian Veterans of Foreign
It was named in honor of Army Pvt. Gordon Stanley Weston, who was killed early in World War II.
The camaraderie of the post means a lot to Ron Gourneau, who fought in the Vietnam War.
"One thing you learn in a war zone is that you need to be able to depend on your buddies and the Gordon Weston
Post gives me that same feeling," said Gourneau.
When they attend meetings there is a quiet understanding among the men that is shared without speaking, he said.
"We don't have to talk. We just know."
Native American Veterans History