November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. On the anniversary of this great struggle, we reflect on the sacrifice of those who served, including Oneida Indians.
While April 6, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, it should be noted that in September of 1918, the Oneidas and fellow members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also declared war on Germany. The declaration came after several Oneidas had been drafted despite their insistence they belonged to a separate nation. Still others refused to register for the draft until their Nation declared war.
The Oneidas are considered the first allies of the United States, having sided with the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Oneidas have fought in every conflict since, protecting their Nation and the United States. And, according to government tallies, approximately 12,000 American Indians served during World War I.
“Indian people are unique in the fact that we have different status from others as we are citizens of our state, our county, and our individual nations,” Keller George, Wolf Clan Member of the Oneida Nation Council, explained. Keller is retired from the U.S. Air Force and served in the Korean Conflict.
“In the 1800s, Chief Justice John Marshall stated that Indian nations are dependent sovereign nations. In the U.S. Constitution, under the commerce clause, it states ‘The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.’ You can’t get any more sovereign than that.”
“When we (veterans) entered into the United States’ service, we took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Some of us paid the ultimate price; others suffered injuries,” he said. “For that reason we honor all those who served in the armed forces of this country.”
Click here to see a 1918 newspaper article about the declaration of war.
Some of the Oneidas who served during World War I include:
John Powless (Turtle Clan), Army
Moses Powless (Turtle Clan), Navy
Elias Sconondoa (Turtle Clan)
Clarence A. Stabb (Turtle Clan)
Elmer Stabb (Turtle Clan)
Gilbert L. Webster (Turtle Clan)