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The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited present day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years. After an arduous process lasting more than three decades, the Mashpee Wampanoag were re-acknowledged as a federally recognized tribe in 2007. In 2015, the federal government declared 150 acres of land in Mashpee and 170 acres of land in Taunton as the Tribe’s initial reservation, on which the Tribe can exercise its full tribal sovereignty rights. The Mashpee tribe currently has approximately 2,600 enrolled citizens.


Members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe have served in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. Former Marine  Crispus Attucks, one of five people killed in the Boston Massacre, was a tribe member. More than 250 Mashpee veterans fought in American wars from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam and roughly 85% were members of the Wampanoag Tribe. Approximately 90% of Mashpee residents who fought in the Revolutionary War were Wampanoag. All 13 that died (in the Revolution ary War were Wampanoag.

Alicia Birchett, 29, was the first tribe member killed during service since World War II.


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Native Americans have served in every major military conflict since the Revolutionary War.  In the 20th century, more than 12,000 Native Americans served in World War I, and 10,000 Native women joined the Red Cross.  During World War II, over 44,000 Native Americans served, including nearly 800 women.  Since World War II, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians have also served in great numbers and with distinction.  During World War II, for example, more than 6,300 Alaska Natives volunteered to serve in the Alaska Territorial Guard.  On D-Day, 500 Native Americans and Canadian First Nation citizens participated in the invasion at Normandy. 

Native Veterans are highly regarded within tribal communities for their dedication and commitment to serving in the Armed Services throughout America’s history and up to the present day. American Indian and Alaska Native people serve in the US Armed Services at a higher rate than any other group. According to the 2010 Census, it is estimated that over 150,000 veterans identified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone. The US Department of Defense estimates there are currently over 24,000 active duty Native service members in the US Armed Forces and more than 183,000 veterans identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.

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