Originally created 11/04/04

Speaker explains bravery, diversity among American Indians



Even before they were given the rights and privileges of American citizens, American Indians fought for their country.

"We fought in virtually every war this nation has been involved in," said Dr. Lucian Lamar Steed, the executive director for the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, who spoke Monday at Alexander Hall as part of Fort Gordon's Native American Heritage Month Command Program.

"We have always been Americans," he said. "We just showed up when our homeland needed us."

Many American Indians have earned medals, including five who received the Medal of Honor.

"They were born to be warriors," Dr. Steed said.

He said there were words such as "patriotic" that could be used for almost all American Indians; however, the greatest disservice to give to them is to think they are all the same.

"The biggest mistake is to paint all Native Americans with one brush," he said.

"The people are as different as day and night."

Dr. Steed said he goes into many school classrooms and when the children are asked what American Indians lived in, they say "tepees."

While some did have tepees, he said there were many types of homes different tribes lived in.

As he closed his speech, Dr. Steed noted the accomplishments of some American Indians, and dais they certainly could not be classified as ignorant or as savages.

He talked about Seqouya, a Cherokee who is credited with inventing the written Cherokee language, the ancient aqueduct system created by the Aztecs that is used in Mexico City and the Mayans, who were the first users of the concept of the number zero.