|Two members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Northern
Wisconsin talked about the role of military service in the Native
American community as well as their continuing service to their
communities during Fort McCoy’s observance of National Native American
Heritage Month Nov. 27.
Alan Caldwell and Dennis Kenote related how they used their military
experience as a springboard to become tribal leaders. Fort McCoy Equal
Opportunity Adviser Master Sgt. Matthew Fitzgibbons said they were
invited to speak to provide an example of how military personnel can
share their service with the community and use it as a starting point to
develop community leadership skills and to provide community service.
Alan Caldwell (left) and Dennis Kenote of the Menominee Indian
Tribe of Northern Wisconsin were the guest speakers at the Fort
McCoy National Native American Heritage observance.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
Caldwell served in the Army from 1969-71, at Fort Hood, Texas and
Primasens, West Germany, as a personnel specialist who reached the rank
of specialist 5. He became a teacher, elementary school principal,
athletic coach, college professor and consultant. He currently is
commander of the Veterans of the Menominee Nation.
Kenote served in the U.S. Navy from 1964-66 and visited 18 countries as
a boatswain mate (E-4). After his military service, he worked for the
Wisconsin Public Service utilities company in Green Bay for 25 years. In
addition to serving on the Veterans of the Menominee Nation, he
currently serves as the vice chairman of the Menominee Language and
Culture Commission. In that role, he often provides invocations and
prayers in the Menominee language for veterans and community activities.
Kenote presented a follow up invocation — to the garrison chaplain’s
prayer — in the Menominee language at the observance.
“Native Americans have the highest military service rate
(recruits-to-population ratio) of any ethnic group in the U.S.,” Kenote
said. “The Menominee County/Menominee Indian Reservation has the highest
percentage of veterans among the general population in the State of
Wisconsin and the second highest enlistment rate of all the counties in
the United States just behind Shannon County, Kansas located at Fort
Caldwell said military service is very popular among Native Americans as
it gives them a chance to learn a trade or go to school. In many
instances, it also helps out Families economically because it gives them
one less person to feed and clothe. Servicemembers often send part of
their pay home to help support their Families, as well.
Military service also relates very well with the Warrior Ethos of the
Menominee Tribe, Caldwell said.
Members of the Fort McCoy community listen to the guest speakers
at the Fort McCoy observance of National Native American Heritage Month.
The speakers talked about the importance and meaning of military and
community service to their tribal counterparts.
(Photo by Photo by Rob Schuette)
Tribal members have a duty to protect their homeland, and this also
extends to protecting the United States, he said. In the Native American
community, veterans use the skills they’ve acquired to provide
“Military service is one step in the circle of life,” Caldwell said.
“The warriors of today will be the protectors of tomorrow.”
After their military career, both Caldwell and Kenote have been active
in serving their community.
They participate in various fundraisers, which have returned money to
the community for scholarships, elder parties for the holiday season,
Both give back to the community, such as greeting veterans returning
from deployment, especially wounded warriors.
Nathaniel Nez Jr., the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs point of
contact for the Tribal Governments of the federally recognized Wisconsin
American Indian Tribes and their respective Tribal Veterans Service
Officers and Tribal Veterans, also attended the luncheon.
Fitzgibbons said Nez volunteered to see how observances are conducted at
Fort McCoy and may help coordinate a future Native American event at the
As Fort McCoy and other Army organizations celebrated Native American
Heritage Month, the Army has consulted with leaders of federally
recognized tribes to provide new policy for Army-tribal relationships,
according to an Army News Service story.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh signed a new policy Oct. 24. The
“American Indian and Alaska Native Policy” seeks to “build stable and
enduring government-to-government relations with federally recognized
tribes in a manner that sustains the Army mission and minimizes effects
on protected tribal resources.”
It continues: “The Army will communicate with federally recognized
tribes on a government-to-government basis in recognition of their
“The policy establishes Armywide guidance for Soldiers at all levels, as
well as Army civilians, on communicating with and understanding the
concerns of tribes, including their rights, lands and resources,” said
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations,
Energy & Environment.
Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott said Caldwell’s and
Kenote’s service and presentation provide an important lesson to the
Fort McCoy community.
It’s important for all veterans to share their stories with members of
their community, Nott said. The stories will be told so it’s important
that veterans provide their real-life version of what occurred during
For more information about ethnic observances in the Fort McCoy
community, call the Equal Opportunity adviser at 608-388-3246.