22. Indian Scouts

Native Americans have a long history of U.S. military service that stretches back to the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and later. One year after the Civil War ended, Native Americans were called upon again to serve as enlisted Indian Scouts in the U.S. Army. The Army Reorganization Act of 1866 authorized the enlistment of an Indian force not to exceed 1,000 men, to serve as scouts and receive the same pay as cavalry soldiers. After 1866, Indian Scout became officially enlisted in the Army, before this they were considered employees. Indians Scouts served short terms, usually three to six months, but could enlist multiple times. By the late 1860s the Army had been involved in the Indians Wars for 20 years and because of the vast, challenging land to the west, the Army needed more manpower. Indian Scouts performed reconnaissance and combat duties to help subdue the last warring tribes. Indian Scouts were issued uniforms that usually came from surplus stock and were sometimes mixed with their own native attire. In 1890 a designated uniform and insignia in the form of crossed arrows were authorized by the Army to signify Indian Scouts as a branch of service. By 1917 Indian Scouts could receive discharge papers and were eligible for pensions. Many Native Americans who served received the Medal of Honor for their bravery and hard work. The branch of Indian Scouts was deactivated in 1947.

For more information about Indian Scouts in the U.S. follow the links below:



P1890 Indian Scout Dress Helmet With Helmet Cord, Frontier Army Museum collection.
Apache Indian Scouts U.S. Army, 1880s (Image Courtesy of the National Archives)
Apache Moccasin Leggings ca. 1860, Frontier Army Museum collection.
Native Americans in WWI (Image Courtesy of the National WWI Museum and Memorial)