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  Meeting of Historical Minds
July 13, 2011

Combined Arms Center – Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – The Combat Studies Institute (CSI), Fort Leavenworth, recently held a Native American Wars Forum with seven plains tribes represented.  Native American representatives included, Mr. Woodrow Brien (Crow Tribe Veterans Affairs), Mr. James Bear (Three Nations, Arikara Tribal Rep.), Ms. Elizabeth Old Chief (Crow Tribe Veterans Affairs, Mr. George Old Crow (Cheyenne Chief), Ms. Phyllis Wahahrockah-Tasi (Comanche Tribal Historian and Curator of the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center, Lawton, OK), Mr. Alden Whiteman (Vice-President for Development and Planning, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College), and Mr. Gordon Yellowman, Director of the Language Program at the Department of Education, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. The forum was intended to explain how the history of the Indian Wars is taught to the students at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College while gaining the Native American perspective on these conflicts, as viewed through the lens of the participants.

The forum began with an overview of "Asymmetric Warfare: The American Indian Wars," one of the more popular electives.  The course covers over 400 years of interaction between Native Americans and Europeans, from the pre-colonial period though the 1890s.  The focus of the class is how do cultures clash-- i.e. how they see each other, misunderstand each other, and the results of how that plays out. Historians from CSI described how they use the Sioux Wars and Cheyenne Wars staff ride electives to help Army leaders earn a deep appreciation of the complexities of the Indian Wars.  The tribal historians then shared ideas on how to broaden our historical sources. Ms. Wahahrockah-Tasi shared a detailed list of Comanche oral histories, and the group encouraged the CSI historians to visit the archives at the University of Montana's Native American Studies Department.  Discussions on how best to include tribal representatives on portions of CSI's Sioux Wars Staff Ride also occurred.

The tribal representatives were genuinely impressed by the variety of Native American military history courses offered and were delighted to see the extensive efforts made by CSI to impart the Native American perspective and culture into these courses.  The forum served as a valuable opportunity for the different tribal representatives and historians to network, to share ideas, and to develop relationships that will benefit all.

CSI is a military history “think tank” which produces timely and relevant military history research publications and contemporary operational history for the US Army.  CSI also conducts battlefield staff rides and provides other types of educational and historical support to Army units and commands upon request. 

To find out more about CSI visit their web site at: /cac2/CSI

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Last Reviewed: July 18, 2011

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