On the Duties of Citizenship: Red, White & Blue


“The first great World War was in progress, and in 1917 along with other Americans, the Indians all over this great land began to volunteer for the armed services. Of course, under the Indian Treaties, they were not supposed to bear arms, but the army looked the other way, and they rendered faithful and brave service. It is believed that their service and valor fighting for this country was a contributing factor in the decision to grant them the right to vote. On June 6, 1924, Calvin Coolidge signed the Proclamation giving the vote to the original American.

“At long last, these, our people, who had lived so many centuries on and in this beautiful land, now had full and equal rights to vote and to carry on the duties of citizenship. So here we stand: Look about you, red man and white man. Is there so much difference? I have often said I do not think it was a mere accident the stripes of our flag are red and white. It was the close relationship between the two races, the red and the white, and together they choose their leaders to shine as stars in the blue field of service.”

Joseph R. Hillaire, Lummi leader, totem artist and great orator. An excerpt from an oration featured in his daughter’s recollections, Rights Remembered: A Salish Grandmother Speaks on American Indian History and the Future, p.297.


Photo credit: Artist Trust.

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