SCAIR - Southern California American Indian Resource Center


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By Roy Cook, AIWA-SFA-75

November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday and November 11 is National Veterans day. Southern California American Indian Resource, SCAIR honors all our military veterans for the freedom their service has brought to all Americans.

Ira Hamilton Hayes, USMC Airborne Warrior was a participant in the famous WW II flag raising, February 25, 1945, on Mount Suribachi Iwo Jima. He was a Akimel Oodham, Pima, Indian, born at Sacaton, Arizona, on 12 January 1923. In 1932, the family moved a few miles southward to Bapchule. Both Sacaton and Bapchule are located within the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Reservation in south central Arizona. Hayes left high school after completing two years of study. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in May and June of 1942, and went to work as a carpenter. 

On 26 August 1942, Ira Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Phoenix, Arizona for the duration of the National Emergency. Following boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, Hayes was assigned to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, Marine Corps Base, San Diego. The Commandant named this small base, dedicated entirely to parachute training, Camp Gillespie in honor of Brevet Major Archibald H. Gillespie, who had participated in the campaign to free California from Mexico in 1846.

Ira Hayes graduated one month later, the Akimel Oodham Marine Warrior  was qualified as a parachutist on 30 November and promoted to Private First Class the next day. On 2 December, he joined Company B, 3d Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, 3d Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California, Then he sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia, on 14 March 1943.

In April, Private First Class Hayes' unit was designated Company K, 3d Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment. In October Private First Class Hayes sailed for Vella Lavella, arriving on the 14th. Here, he took part in the campaign and occupation of that island until 3 December when he moved north to Bougainville, arriving on the 4th. The campaign there was already underway, but the parachutists had a full share of fighting before they left on 15 January 1944.

Hayes was ordered to return to the United States where he landed at San Diego on 14 February 1944, after slightly more than 11 months overseas and two campaigns. The parachute units were disbanded in February, 1945 and Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, of the 5th Marine Division, then at Camp Pendleton, California.

In September, Private First Class Hayes sailed with his company for Hawaii for more training. He sailed from Hawaii in January en route to Iwo Jima where he landed on D-day (19 February 1945) and remained during the fighting until 26 March.

On Feb. 23, 1945 to signal the end of Japanese control,Private First Class Hayes and five other's raised the U. S. flag atop Mount Suribuchi on the island of Iwo Jima. The front four are (left to right) Paramarine Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Paramarine Harlon Block.

The back two are Michael Strank (behind Sousley) and Rene Gagnon (behind Bradley). Strank, Block and Sousley would die shortly afterwards.

 Three of the six men were killed while raising the flag. This heroic act was photographed by Joe Rosenthal, and it transformed Ira Hayes' life for ever. After the flag raising he embarked for Hawaii where he boarded a plane for the U.S. on 15 April. On the 19th, he joined Company C, 1st Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.

On 10 May, Private First Class Hayes, Private First Class Gagnon, Pharmacist's Mate Second Class Bradley, and Marine Technical Sergeant Keyes Beech, a combat correspondent, left on the bond selling tour. In Chicago, Private First Class Hayes received orders directing his return to the 28th Marines. He arrived at Hilo, Hawaii, and rejoined Company E of the 29th on 28 May. Three weeks later, on 19 June, he was promoted to corporal.

With the end of the war, Corporal Hayes and his company left Hilo and landed at Sasebo, Japan, on 22 September to participate in the occupation of Japan. On 25 October, Corporal Hayes boarded his eleventh and last ship to return to his homeland for the third time. Landing at San Francisco on 9 November, he was honorably discharged on 1 December.

Corporal Hayes was awarded a Letter of Commendation with Commendation Ribbon by the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Lieutenant General Roy S. Geiger, for his "meritorious and efficient performance of duty while serving with a Marine infantry battalion. This commendation is awarded for duty during operations against the enemy on Vella Lavella and Bougainville, British Solomon Islands, from 15 August to 15 December 1943. Also for performance of duty on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, from 19 February to 27 March 1945."

The list of the Corporal's decorations and medals includes the Commendation Ribbon with "V" combat device, Presidential Unit Citation with one star (for Iwo Jima), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars (for Vella Lavella, Bougainville, Consolidation of the Northern Solomons, and Iwo Jima), American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

The Airborne Marine died at Bapchule on 24 January 1955. He was buried on 2 February 1955 at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 34, Plot 479A.

USMC Airborne history began as early as 1927, 12 Marines parachuted from an aircraft at NAS Anacostia, Washington D.C.; how ever, there were no organized Marine parachute units at that time.

German success with airborne forces in the early days of WW 11 prompted every major military in the world to explore the new concept - and that included the U. S. Marine Corps. MGen. Holcomb, Commandant of the Marine Corps, ordered plans for the development of a Marine parachute program in May 1940. Requirements were set for one battalion of parachutists for every Marine regiment. Each battalion was to be equipped with two 75 mm-pack howitzers, three days of rations, hand-drawn vehicles, and light antiaircraft and anti tank weapons.

Three tactical scenarios were envisioned for the parachute battalions: as a reconnoitering and raiding force; as a spearhead or advance guard to hold strategic objectives until the arrival of larger forces; and as an independent force operating in the guerrilla role for extended periods.

During the summer of 1940, the Marine parachute program gained impetus after Marine officers observed the Army's airborne training and facilities as well as the receipt of additional reports of the use of airborne troops in Europe.

The first class of two officers and 38 enlisted men began training at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey on October 26, 1940. Tower training was accomplished at the Army's facility at nearby Hightstown, New Jersey. Live jumps were made at Lakehurst. The second class began training on December 30, 1940. A total of 225 Marines completed the Lakehurst course. Due to the inadequacy of the facilities at Lakehurst and the unavailability of the Army's towers at Hightstown, Capt. Marion Dawson and the second class of parachutists were sent to San Diego in February 1941 to set up an additional school. The third class of parachutists was also sent to San Diego and eventually formed the 2nd Parachute Battalion.

The U.S. Navy acquired 612.656 acres of land in Santee, California, on 31 March 1942 for the Marine Parachute School. This land was acquired from private land owners via condemnation proceedings and a Declaration of Taking.

Another 75.2 acres of land were acquired by the Navy on 4 September 1942 for the Marine Parachute School also via a Declaration of Taking, making a combined total of 687.856 acres. The Marine Parachute School was located between the city centers of Santee and El Cajon, about 15 miles northeast of downtown San Diego in San Diego County, California. Site improvements consisted of two aircraft runways, aircraft parking aprons, a flight control tower, three parachute jump towers, a parachute loft, parachute training building, barracks, storehouses, garage, mess hall, squadron shops, hangar, fire house, swimming pool, rifle range, water and sewage treatment plants, and other facilities.


Parachute trainees undergo their initial training at San Diego. This included leaps from platforms to practice the proper landing technique.Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 127-GC-121-402906

The school initially operated out of San Diego's Camp Elliott, but the Corps built barracks, jump towers, plane mockups, and aviation fields near Santee and moved the entire operation there at the end of August 1942.

During the 16 months of Camp Gillespie's existence, a total of 3,000 parachutists graduated without a single fatality. Up to July 1943, 20,000 jumps had been made at Gillespie. Marine parachute battalions fought in several campaigns in the South Pacific including Guadalcanal, but no combat parachute drops were ever made. When the program cancelled, the parachutists present at San Diego joined the 5th Marine Division and eventually took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima.

One of the former parachutists was Ira Hayes, the American Indian who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi. Today, the Marines train a small number of parachutists - primarily for reconnaissance operations.

The U.S. Navy acquired the site on 31 March 1942, and 75.2 additional acres acquired on 4 September 1942. The site was originally used as a Marine parachute school. The Marine Parachute School operated from 1942 until 1944. In February 1944, the Parachute School and all of its facilities became an auxiliary airfield for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. Site was named Camp Gillespie at this time. Aircraft and Air Warning Squadron operated the airfield until 1947. Acres deeded to the County of San Diego in 1953.

Airborne Warrior Ira Hayes is an important part of San Diego’s military and American Indian history. From his USMC training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Hayes was assigned to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, Marine Corps Base, San Diego. After deployment in the Pacific, 11 months overseas and two campaigns, he was assigned to the 5th Marine Division, then at Camp Pendleton, California before Iwo Jima. We honor his service. Aho.





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By Roy Cook: Opata-Oodham

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. How did this month of recognition of our country’s native peoples get started? The primary purpose of Southern California American Resource, SCAIR, organization is to provide educational and community services for Native American Indians in San Diego County. These services include both the Native urban and tribal communities of San Diego County. A brief time line illustrates some of the key events on the way to that designation:

At the turn of the 20th century, people began making proposals for a day to honor Native Americans.

In 1914, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, rode horseback from state to state in the hope of gaining support for a day of tribute.

The following year, Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to designate a day of recognition for Native Americans.

New York was the first state to observe American Indian Day in 1916. Over the years, other states followed suit in designating a day to honor Native Americans.

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, that the Legislature of the State of California recognizes the month of November as California Native American Indian History Month.

In 1976, a Senate resolution authorized the president of the United States to declare the week of October 10-16, 1976, as Native American Awareness Week.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1990.

National American Indian Heritage Month purpose is to honor and recognize the original peoples of this land. Also, American Indians military Veterans and active are motivated less by social mobility and more by their American Indian Warrior Tradition. American Indians are the smallest pan-ethnic group in the United States, comprising one percent of the U.S. population, but have a 33 percent or one in three per capita military participation rate. The Warrior Tradition is the most frequent declaration given by American Indian Veterans for their military participation.

America’s first peoples have endured, and they remain a vital cultural, political, social, and moral presence. Tribal America has brought to this great country certain values and ideas that have become ingrained in the American spirit. Tribal America has shared the knowledge that humans can thrive and prosper without destroying the natural environment. Tribal America has shared the understanding that people from very different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and traditions can come together to build a great country. Tribal America has shared the awareness that diversity can be a source of strength rather than division.

Our bridge to the 21st century will rest upon the foundation we build today. Tribal America must teach our children about our past — both the good and the bad — so that they may learn from our successes and mistakes. Tribal America must provide our children with the knowledge and skills to permit them to surpass our own achievements and create a stronger, more united American community. Tribal America must provide our Indian children with greater opportunity.

SCAIR invites all Americans speak the true American language: enjoy some of the many Indian languages today!

Alabama is from Choctaw meaning “thicket-clearers” or “vegetation-gatherers.”

Alaska corruption of Aleut word meaning “great land” or “that which the sea breaks against.”

Arizona from the Oodham “Arizonac,” meaning, “little spring” or “young spring.”

Arkansas from the Quapaw Indians.

Chicago (Illinois): Algonquian for “garlic field” Or “Skunk Place.”

Chesapeake (bay): Algonquian name of a village.

Connecticut from an Indian word (Quinnehtukqut) meaning “beside the long tidal river.”

Hawaii, is the native name for the island state. Havaiki in the Marquesan language.

Illinois is Algonquin for “tribe of superior men.”

Indiana meaning “land of Indians.”

Iowa is from the Dakota Sioux tribe. Ayuhwa, Ouaouia, Aiouez, and Ioways means “sleepy ones.”

Kansas from a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind.”

Kentucky from an Iroquoian word “Ken-tah-ten” meaning “land of tomorrow.”

Massachusetts from Massachusett tribe of Native Americans, meaning “at or about the great hill.”

Michigan from Indian word “Michigana” meaning “great or large lake.”

Minnesota from a Dakota Indian word meaning “sky-tinted water.”

Mississippi: from an Choctaw word meaning “Father of Waters.”

Malibu (California): is a Chumash village name.

Manhattan (New York): Lenape-Delaware, believed to mean “large island in water.”

Milwaukee (Wisconsin): Algonquian, believed to mean “a good spot or place.”

Missouri named after the Missouri Indian tribe. “Missouri” means “town of the large canoes.”

Narragansett (Rhode Island): named after the Indian tribe.

Nebraska from an Oto Indian word meaning “flat water.”

Niagara (falls): named after an Iroquoian town, “Ongiaahra.”

North Dakota from the Sioux tribe, meaning “allies.”

Ohio from an Iroquoian word meaning “great river.”

Oklahoma from two Choctaw Indian words meaning “red people.”

Pensacola (Florida): Choctaw for “hair” and “people.”

Podunk, meant to describe a insignificant town out in the middle of nowhere, comes from a Natick Indian word meaning “swampy place.”

Roanoke (Virginia): Algonquian for “shell place” (Indian tribes often used shells that were made into beads called wampum, as jewelry, and memory belts, like the Lenape/Penn treaty belt).

Saratoga (New York): believed to be Mohawk for “springs (of water) from the hillside.”

South Dakota from the Sioux tribe, meaning “allies.”

Sunapee (lake in New Hampshire): Pennacook for “rocky pond.”

Tahoe (lake in California/Nevada): Washo for “big water.”

Tennessee, Tanasqui word is the name of two Cherokee towns.

Texas from an Asinay (Hasinai) word Tejas meaning “friends.”

Utah from the Ute tribe, meaning “people of the mountains.”

Wisconsin is Miami Indian word Meskousing, the river narrows.

Wyoming from the Lenape=Delaware word, meaning “mountains and valleys alternating”; the same as the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

As we learned in grade school, Indian was the name Columbus mistakenly applied to the people he encountered when he arrived in what he believed was the “Indies,” the medieval name for Asia. In the 1960s, the term Native American attempted to eradicate confusion between the indigenous people of the Americas and the indigenous people of India. It has not but it is in political usage. The original term, American Indian, is least misunderstood or exploited by non-Tribal people.

Are the terms American Indian and Native American essentially synonyms, in the same way that the terms black and African American are often used interchangeably? Or is using the term American Indian instead of Native American the equivalent of using Negro instead of black-offensive and anachronistic? Is the insistence on using Native American to the exclusion of all other terms a sign of being doctrinaire?

While these were once raging questions in the culture wars, they have now happily sorted themselves out. Over the years, the people whom these words are meant to represent have made their preference clear: the majority of American Indians/Native Americans believe it is acceptable to use either term, or both. Many have also suggested leaving such general terms behind in favor of specific tribal designations. As the publisher and editor of The Navajo Times, the largest Native American-owned weekly newspaper, puts it, “I . . . would rather be known as, ‘Tom Arviso Jr., a member of the Navajo tribe,’ instead of Native American or American Indian. This gives an authentic description of my heritage, rather than lumping me into a whole race of people.”

Mehan, Aho, Thank you.

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Southern California American Indian Resource, SCAIR, welcomed San Diego Urban Tribal TANF participants to a Holiday luncheon. Sponsored by the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association there is plenty of good cheer, gifts and feasting to be enjoyed on the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians land this Sunday, December 14, 2008 from 10:30 am to 3pm at the Viejas Dream Catcher lounge in Alpine.

There is a very impressive wall of gift-wrapped presents across the stage of the Dream Catchers private meeting room. Cutlery sparkled on the covered tables as the holiday seasons music filtered into the festive gathering. Candy and beribboned centerpieces established a special festive atmosphere for the fun filled schedule of events.

SCAIR Senior advisor Randy Edmonds opened the afternoon’s activities with a prayer for all this holiday season and for all who could not be there for reasons of distance or health. He then introduced Bill Johnson, SCAIR Board President for additional words of welcome and appreciation of the opportunity to be a part of the festivities.

Soaring Eagles coordinator and San Diego Unified School Indian Education Title VII community liaison Vickie Gambala presented a special gift to Ernie Salgado on behalf of the parents and children of the Soaring Eagle Dance and Regalia class. The Gourd stitch decorated dance stick is a symbol of position and privilege. Topped by a claw and wrapped with strips of fur the dance stick is further decorated with two feather drops. Ernie was proudly appreciative of the thought and the gift.

Lunch immediately followed with the call, “Elders First!” This is a fine hot generous selection of roast beef, ham in pineapple sauce, sliced turkey, fried rice, potatoes and gravy, steamed squash and tossed salad with a selection of dressings also rolls and butter. Later there is a tempting table of pies, decorated cake and selections of yummy buttery cookies.

Entertainment is provide by Kim Flying Eagle. He demonstrated a variety of Plains Fancy Dancer steps. His two specialties were a modern choreographed Eagle dace and a 24-hoop selection of designs and movements from nature and the world around us. His finale assembled two worlds of hoops.

The sounds of bells kept ringing as Santa Claus came out, that Red guy with the sack over his shoulder. He called all the children to gather around him as hid elves helped read off the names on the gaily wrapped gifts. There are spectacular gifts, enormous boxes, screams of excitement and joy over ‘their’ gifts. Here and there are piles of wrapping paper and ribbons, children riding and playing with the presents, sharing and having a wonderful time.

There are outstanding smiles and lots of giggles of joy. This is a real fun place to be even if you think you are the Grinch. Even you too will smile at the end of this good day.

Finally, a youth guitar class of students led by Father Akers from Trinity Anglican Church of Alpine took the stage and sang songs of the Holiday Season. It is great fun until it is time to say goodnight to all and Ho, Ho, Ho from SCAIR this year. Thank you, Aho, Mehan.