By Josephine Dailey
Retired Army Colonel David C’de Baca tells us that the first Navajo Women to serve in the military may have been from the Torreon community in present day New Mexico in 1886. “Nal-Kai” and “Muchacha” were U.S. Army Scouts with the Army’s 20th Infantry Regiments and were officially listed in Army records. They were considered to be translators for the Army. “Mexicana Chiquita” (whose given name was “Nal-Kai" was 24 years old and Muchacha was 21 at the time. Both had the same dates of service, late May to October 11, 1886, during the Apache Wars.
More recently, the “Navajo Times,” carried a story on Lt. Col. Nathele Anderson who has been in the Army for over twenty years and is currently a Reserve officer with the Army Materiel Command-Army Reserve Element Sustainment Brigade at Ft. Sam Huston, Texas. Her first job in the Army was being a commander of transportation with the 787th Corps Support Battalion, and she is “the first Navajo woman to command Army units.” She says that being a minority in the Army was hard at first but feels that her leadership skills helped her get to the rank she now holds.
One reason that Navajos are drawn to the military is to become a leader and warrior. It is not only for the military service but for life afterwards when the military stint is over. They carry the tradition of being a warrior, helping not only in conflicts but in times of peace. They will become leaders.
Brunt, Charles D. “Two Navajo women May Have Been America’s GI Janes.” Albuquerque Journal 10 November 2016. Print.
Hawkins, Dari. “Native American Soldier Serves as Trailblazer.” The Redstone Rocket 11 September 2013. Print.
Pineo, Christopher S. “Navajo Women in the Military.” Navajo Times 7 November 2010. Print.