Ona M. White Wing Garvin Speech for Veterans Day, November 11, 2018

By Ona M. White Wing Garvin

On the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month on the 11th Hour, World War I ended in Europe.  This was a major conflict fought in Europe and the world from July 23, 1914 to November 11, 1918, 100 years ago.  Over 8 million people were killed in battle.  This was not a war that the Ho-Chunk people were involved in at the beginning, but the United States joined as Allies.
The Ho-Chunk Nation have always been a warrior people protecting their lands and fighting off raids from other tribes and the United States government throughout the 1700 and 1800s.  There were Ho-Chunk men who joined the 128th Regiment of the32nd Division of the Red Arrow and fought in WW I.
Robert Bigthunder, Andrew Black Hawk, James Brown, Allen Decorah, Arthur Decorah, Foster Decorah, Henry Decorah, Robert Decorah, Russius Decorah, William Decorah, Nelson De La Ronde, Andrew Funmaker, James Greengrass (Carrimon), James Hanaka, Sam Little Soldier, Nathaniel Longtail, Dewey Mike, George Miner, John Miner, William Miner, Lee Sam, Mike Standing Water, Jesse Thompson, Sam Thundercloud, Martin White Bear, Archie White Eagle, john White Eagle, Leo White Eagle and Lyall Wright.
Of these Ho-Chunk Men two were killed in battle.  They are Private Dewey Mike and Corporal Foster Decorah.     Both Ho-Chunk graves are at the Oise-Aisne American War Cemetery in Northern France.  Corporal Foster Decorah is buried there and was Killed in Action on August 1, 1918.  He is buried in Plot B, Ro4, Grave 33.  Dewey Mike’s grave is in Plot D, Row 17, Grave 37.  This cemetery is 2 hours north of Paris.
Dewey Mike was the son of John and Kate (Blackhawk) Mike was the only Native American “Gold Star” mother invited to participate in an official trip to France (sponsored by the US Government) to pay her final respect to her son.  Speaking Hoocak, she was interviewed before embarking for the journey across the Atlantic.  “I want to kneel down on his grave and have a picture taken.  It will comfort me in the few years I have left before I join my son.  I made a wreath of pine boughs from the trees Dewey played beneath when he was a boy and I am going to lay it on his grave”.  She died 4 years later.
Pvt. Robert Big Thunder (1892-1954) was also named on the monument of the 128th Regiment of 32nd Division of the Red Arrow and was fighting in a reassigned regiment positioned in the front- line.  As a Rifleman, he formed part of an assault platoon that launched an attack well before dawn on 21 June 1916. Two hours into heavy fighting in close combat, he was wounded at 5 a.m. when that first summer day was just beginning.  A week later he wrote from a hospital in France:
“We made a rapid raid on the Germans early that morning at 3 o’clock, and chased them off a big hill.  Our raid was very successful.  A piece of bursting shrapnel shell hit me below my left eye, cutting my skin and went through my nose {I} ran all the way back from the front to the first aid dressing station under heavy artillery fire (and) an auto ambulance hurried us to a field hospital…Thank God I was not killed [Some] Germans were up in the trees shooting down at us, an hand grenades coming over and bursting close to us hit some of our boys.  [I] was with one boy who could shoot well and he shot one of the Germans in the tree.  One machine gun was only about eight yards from us, but they could not see us.  I was behind four little trees together, and shooting.  We chased them quite a ways and then I was wounded.  I wish I was home working on the farm, but this is our duty, and we must fight to a finish, then we can go home safe”
He was awarded a Purple Heart, probably returned to the front after several weeks.  It is quite possible that he was not reunited with his own unit, but reassigned to the 3rd Division.  His gravestone in the Native American Church Cemetery here in Wittenberg, marks he served in A Co, 7th Infantry Regiment.
The letter was written over a century ago.  Robert Bigthunder wrote this in 1916 at the age of about 24 years old.  He was wounded in an attack to drive the German army back from the Marne River when enemy divisions began to seriously threaten Paris.  German heavy artillery was already close enough to hit targets in that capital city.
We have had tribal members serve in all the US conflicts, WWI, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam.  I was requested to address the contributions of Dallas R. White Wing, who served in the Vietnam War.  Dallas Randolph White Wing was the first born son of Violet Bigthunder White Wing and George White Wing.  He was born in Mauston, Wisconsin on April 10, 1946.  He had four sisters:  Gloria, Ona, Georgianne and Lauren and three brothers:  Gary, John and Robert.
He attended Eland Grade School and graduated from Wittenberg High School in 1964.  He worked at various jobs until he joined the United States Marine Corps on March 14, 1968.  He was a radio Telegraph operator in the Vietnam War.  He spoke of the close friendships he formed with fellow Marines, some of whom gave their life as the ultimate sacrifice and which affected him for the rest of his life.  During his service he earned a National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese service medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and Combat Action Ribbon.  He was honorably discharged at CommCo, SDT, MCB, MCDEC, Quantico, Virginia on December 3, 1971.
When he returned he worked again at various jobs, and truck driving seemed to have been his favorite job wherein he traveled throughout the United States.  He ran for elected office in the Ho-Chunk Nation in 1993.  He served four consecutive terms:  1993-1995; 1995-1999; 1999-2003 and 2003-2007. He worked for unity in the governing body.  Dallas and the governing body worked with WinnaMax (former Green Bay Packer, Max McGee) corporation to fund Rainbow Casino at Nekoosa, and Majestic Pines at Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and Golden Nickel Company, funding the Baraboo Casino.  These companies helped the Ho-Chunk to fund the new gaming enterprises and the Nation later bought them out as we earned more revenue.   The Ho-Chunk Nation became the sole owner of its gaming enterprises.
As he worked with the Legislature he also presented a request to the General Council to establish a fourth Ancillary gaming site at Wittenberg, Wisconsin.  He envisioned a Casino, hotel and restaurant for the area.  Many tribal members scoffed at this idea and opined that there would be no appreciable revenue as there were only lumberjacks and farmers that would be there and felt that their locations at Baraboo, Nekoosa, Black River Falls and Tomah had a better chance of generating revenue.  The General Council did not fully endorse this idea but Dallas worked with the Legislature and they did decide to go ahead with an ancillary gaming site here at Wittenberg, Wisconsin.
Planning the Casino started in April, 2004 and now the rest of the Dream has been realized. The Lumberjacks and Farmers have helped the Ho-Chunk Nation to realize this dream a Hotel, a Restaurant.  Expected revenue generation was about $32,000,000.  Projections For employment were for 153 employees, infusing $5.4 Million of payroll in the community. This benefits not only the Ho-Chunk Nation, but the non-tribal members in this area who are now employed and don’t have to travel to long distances for work.
Dallas was right when he said the reason for this was the tourist traffic would generate this kind of revenue and employment. Each of the employees here are very much appreciated by the Ho-Chunk Nation.  Let us treat those who patronize our Casino, Restaurant and Hotel with broad welcoming smiles and good hospitality!
Dallas was a Warrior, and, also fulfilled the rest of being a Ho-Chunk Warrior in having left the battlefield, came back to battle for his people and others for this site and for other programs to benefit tribal members, their children and the Veterans.
We are thankful to all Veterans, who sacrificed their time and lives in all Wars the United States has called them into and they are revered in all venues in the Ho-Chunk Nation.  They give us honor in the many naming and feathering ceremonies only combat Veterans can bestow.
May we continue to be defended and our rights secured in the future by people who have a warrior lineage as my Grandfather Robert Bigthunder, WWI veteran and down to his grandson Dallas R. White Wing and ALL who serve now and have served to defend our freedoms and all Comrades in Arms who served and some who gave their life to this service.
God Bless all Veterans, God Bless the United States and God Bless the Ho-Chunk Nation.
By Ona Mae White Wing Garvin
     Goddaughter of the 822nd Tank Destroyers Battalion, WW II.
(Research provided by Prof. Harald Prins, University of Kansas.)