Krystal Two Bulls- Food For Thought This Thanksgiving

Today on Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to further introduce myself and a conversation that drives the work I do. I am an Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne woman and veteran. I was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and raised on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Being a Native American veteran is a complicated identity for numerous reasons, but especially because of the traumatic relationship between the US military and Native People.

The winter months and holiday season are a very traumatic time for my People. Winter has always been the time when the US military brutally attacked and massacred the Peoples of the Plains. The Sand Creek Massacre, Dakota 38 + 2 Hanging, Wounded Knee Massacre and Fort Robinson Outbreak are 4 that my family and my partner’s family were personally involved in. These are only 4 of many massacres and attacks of brutal violence enacted by the military on my People who were unarmed and peace-seeking.

From the forceful removal of Native Nations from their traditional homelands, to the strategic placement of military forts, to the introduction of alcohol at said forts, the US military has always been the primary tool of colonization of the original Peoples of this land and the land itself. So, being a Native American, it seems counterintuitive to enlist in the military. Yet, Native People enlist at a higher rate per capita than any other ethnic group. We have served in every war since before the United States was even a country.

I believe we enlist because we come from a Warrior culture. Our Warriors were tasked with preserving, protecting, and providing for our People and our way of life, especially our most vulnerable: women, children and elderly. When our People were forced onto reservations, the roles and responsibilities of our Warriors were stripped from them. They were no longer able to protect, provide or preserve. So, when there came an opportunity for our men to reclaim that Warrior role through military service, they reclaimed it.

As we all know, there are many other reasons why we all enlist. I enlisted because I was always taught to serve my People. When that Army recruiter pitched me the line about serving my country, I believed it was my chance to do so. Through my military service, I learned the difference between a soldier and a warrior, is that a soldier will follow orders no matter the consequence. A warrior, however, will do whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of their People. I had to learn how to heal from the indoctrination of the army, and then learn to utilize and translate my military skill sets in ways that actually protect, preserve, and provide for my People and our way of life.

I share this because the use of the US military to invade and colonize lands started with my People. Today, we see this play out all over the world through the many facets of the military industrial complex. I truly believe that, as veterans and because of our unique experiences, we are more equipped to protect and provide for our own communities. We are game changers. My vision is that through the Drop the MIC Campaign and Tour, this conversation will continue and we will provide the political education, training, and community-building necessary for our members to transform their military skills and to feel empowered with the confidence to take action.

The work About Face does has been an extremely important part of my healing and reconciliation with this identity. So today, I am thankful for partners like you who understand the importance of having the tough conversations and then doing the work to do whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of ALL People. Please help us take this work to the next level for all of our wellbeing.

Krystal Two Bulls
Drop the MIC Campaign Co-Director
About Face: Veterans Against War
(formerly known as Iraq Veterans Against War)


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