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American Indian Warrior Tradition
October 6, 2005

The second talk in the annual Calvin College Alumni Lecture Series promises to be informative and intriguing.

HuyserKimberly Huyser, a 2003 Calvin graduate, will speak on "So, You Wanna Be a Soldier? American Indian Warrior Tradition in the U.S. Military."

That talk will take place on Thursday, October 20 at 3:30 pm in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall at Calvin.

It is sponsored by the Calvin department of sociology and social work and the Calvin Alumni Association.

Huyser is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin who studies race and ethnic relations, social organizations and American Indians. She grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Window Rock, Arizona.

Huyser will talk about an interesting military phenomenon: 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.

Huyser wants to know what's going on here.

"What contributes to having such an outstanding military record? Are they motivated by the opportunity to gain educational and vocational skills? Or, if the motivation for entering the military is not socioeconomic gain, what are the educational and economic outcomes for American Indian veterans?"

Huyser says that most research literature to date has focused on African American and non-Hispanic white outcomes rather than looking at the participation or the outcomes of the military service of American Indians.

"My research centers around statistical analysis of the United States Census 2000," she says. "My examination begins by finding the educational attainment and the income attainment of three veteran groups: American Indians, African Americans, and non-Hispanic whites. Current research suggests that low economic status individuals use the military as a vehicle of social mobility. Essentially, the military provides low economic status individuals with the opportunity to gain educational and vocational skills that they may not have had without the military."

She is centering her research on a comparison of American Indian veteran education and income outcomes to African American and white veteran outcomes.

She says: "I expect that the outcomes of American Indians will look different than the outcomes of African Americans and non-Hispanic whites. My hypothesis is that American Indians are motivated less by social mobility and more by their Warrior Tradition. The Warrior Tradition is the most common explanation given by American Indian veterans for their military participation."