All Things Considered

U of M researcher wants to 'complicate the narrative' around Native American veterans

John Little is a PhD student in history and American Indian studies.
John Little is a PhD student in history and American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts.
Courtesy of University of Minnesota

Native Americans serve in the military at a higher per-capita rate than any other ethnic group in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Yet their story isn't often told, and when it is, it can lack cultural nuance.

That's what inspired John Little to study Native American Vietnam veterans for his doctoral thesis at the University of Minnesota. He's a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and is director of the Indian University of North America at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

“People want to focus on native veterans as kind of like fierce, savage warriors that can, you know, sneak up on the enemy,” Little told MPR News host Tom Crann. “That story is really, really complex when you start breaking it down and looking into the reasons why native people served.”

To hear more of Little’s conversation with Crann, click play on the audio player above.