Retired Col. Daucey Brewington, a member of the Lumbee tribe, spoke to attendees about his life and the history of the U.S. and its native people. He is known for being the first Native American to graduate from the Air Force Academy.
Brewington grew up in North Carolina and attended Indian-only schools before joining the Air Force.
“Having grown up in the Indian school system I knew what my choices were – stay where I was or break out of the poverty cycle and go to college,” he said. “I saw the military as my way out. I have a history of service members in my family. I had family who fought from World War I through the Korean conflict.”
During his junior year of high school he decided to join the Armed Forces but he didn’t know which service at first.
“I joined the Air Force after looking into all the services because they would let me fly,” he said.
So he started his time in the Air Force and graduated from the academy in June 1970. He went on to become a C-130 pilot until he left active duty in 1979. He continued to serve in the Reserve until 1992.
During the lunch he took attendees on a journey through time from the founding of the U.S. to the present day and talked about the role played by Native Americans.
Brewington explained that even though Native Americans were not always treated right, they still supported the country in wars.
“Natives have fought in wars in support of the U.S. since the Revolutionary War in 1774,” he said. “They have fought in almost every war since the country was founded. Natives played a major role in winning WWII with the Navajo Code Talkers, and they did all this before even being able to vote in 1948.”
The Native Americans did these things because they are deeply connected to the land where they live, he said. This gives them a sense of devotion to protect the land.
Even today Native Americans, per capita, serve in the Armed Forces more than any other group.
“Many Native Americans, including me, have served our country,” Brewington said. “We will continue to serve as long as our country and our land need us.”