For many of us on the Hopi and Navajo reservations, the war is very far away and almost unreal because our daily lives and routines have not really been affected. But this sense of comfortable distance came crashing down when one of the Hopi tribal members was officially listed as Missing In Action on Monday, March 24.
PFC Lori Ann Piestewa, the daughter of Priscilla and Terry Piestewa, is of Hopi/Hispanic ancestry. She is an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe and is of the Bear Clan. This young woman is from Lower Moencopi and a mother of two.
Piestewa is a member of an Army mechanics unit, the 507th Ordinance Maintenance Company out of Fort Bliss, Texas, that was ambushed by Iraqi soldiers on Sunday, March 23.
“They apparently took a wrong turn that led them into territory that was not protected and they were separated from their unit,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
The Pentagon officially confirmed last Wednesday that at least two members of the non-combat Maintenance Unit are dead, eight including Piestewa are missing and five others are prisoners.
Natives have historically served in every conflict since the Indian Wars of the 18th century with Ira Hayes, a Pima from Sacaton and the Navajo Codetalkers being the most celebrated.
According to United States figures, Natives have served in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group in this country.
Piestewa is from a large, close-knit family that has resided in Tuba City for over six decades. Because many of her family members work within the Tuba City School District, it was only a matter of hours before many events were planned to provide support to her parents and family within this Western Navajo Agency town.