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We Honor Our Veterans



We Honor Our Veterans

Excerpt from Keith Vielle (UAII Board Member)

As we enter the month of November we begin the holiday season. We of course celebrate Native American Heritage Month, and prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday. The pandemic has continued to change how we celebrate limited our in-person interaction, but we continue to adapt and find new ways to celebrate together. November also celebrates Veterans Day, and we want to make sure that we honor our veterans who have served at home or abroad in the protection and security of our peoples and our homelands. 

UAII has been impacted by those who have served in the military throughout its history. Our former Executive Director, Dave Rambeau (Paiute), is a decorated veteran who received two purple-hearts for his years of service flying helicopters during the Vietnam War. Dave stated about his reason for joining military service, “Growing up in an Indian community, young men are (expected) to protect the community”. Others such as Gilbert “HotDog” Upshaw (Dine’) also served in the military and has continued to be an active member of the organization since its days on skid row at 118 Winston St., now working in our facilities department. “Hotdog” has also given back to our youth during summer camps of years past by offering guidance on fishing, camping, hiking, and being in nature. Another person to recognize is our own American Indian Clubhouse Director, Ramon Enriquez (Nambe Owingeh Pueblo), who also served, continues to be a mentor working to develop young leaders in our community offering guidance and structure so that they may realize their own path. Lastly, we honor one of our own board members, Keith Vielle (Blackfeet Nation), who has continued to address the needs of our members across L.A. County, while also ensuring that our youth have access to cultural activities promoting awareness by setting up the teepee at many of our community events. Most recently Keith shared with us some good words about Veterans Day and offering recognition for other notable veterans who we should not forget:

OKI (All My Relatives)

My name is Keith Vielle I am from the Blackfeet Nation, I am also a US Army veteran. As we move close to Veterans Day. I want to acknowledge and honor all of our Native brothers & sisters that have served this country. Our people have the highest rate of any ethnic backgrounds serving in the US military at this time (17 percent). Our people have always prayed for peace, but when we are asked to go, we commit ourselves to a country we were once at war with. We do this for our people and all of our sovereign nations. I just want to acknowledge four individuals who have made sacrifices for their sovereign nations. 1: Matthew B. Juan (US Army) (Akimel O’odham) WW 1 veteran who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1918 to his sovereign nation. 2: Ira Hayes: US Marine Corp (Akimel O’odham) who raised the American flag on an Island in the pacific called Iwo Jima. 3: The Navajo/ Dine code talkers, (Marine Corp) who were told to not speak their language in boarding schools, but were ask to speak it as radio men to help win the battles in the pacific campaign. 4: Lori Piestewa: US Army (Hopi Nation) Ms Piestewa was the first Indigenous   women to be killed in combat and the first women in the US military to be killed in Iraq war. Please reflect on this Veterans Day for our indigenous warriors and pray for peace.   

Thank you all for your service, and we continue to think of those who have pair the ultimate sacrifice along with their families. We appreciate our Veterans!


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