SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Women veterans face many stigmas in society. Some do not receive credit for their service and often minimal support from the community.

The word “Akicita’ means warrior – Danielle Decoteau and Lorrena Alameda carry the title proudly.

“As natives, it’s a huge deal to be an Akicita because that’s our main purpose- to protect our people or being actively involved in our communities,” said Danielle Decoteau, Indigenous Akicita Color Guard.

Decoteau and Alameda are members of the Indigenous Akicita Women Color Guard. An organization made of Indigenous women veterans who are or have honorably served in the United States Military. Both women joined the service in 2001. Alameda enlisted in the Army and shortly afterward was deployed to Iraq…

“I went overseas and I was in Iraq when I was 19. We were deployed for 18 months but our boots on ground were 16 months in Iraq,” said Lorrena Alameda, Indigenous Akicita Color Guard.

Decoteau enlisted in the Navy. But she served alongside one of the first battalions to drop bombs on Afghanistan.

“We deployed over to the Gulf. So we then we would hit up Hawaii, Bahrain, Hobart Tasmania, Sasebo Japan. I’ve been all over the world,” Decoteau said.

Decoteau served both active and reserve duty for 9 and a half years.

Alameda served for 6 years with the New Mexico Army National Guard.

“A lot of times people still think women maybe are only able to be nurses or office administrator positions. I don’t think they are really used to hearing a woman being in combat,” Alameda said.

After returning home from serving, the two women realized there wasn’t much support for them or for other female veterans in the community. So they came up with a solution.

The Indigenous Akicita Women Color Guard began in 2019. The group provides support for women veterans and attends events all over the country.

“People in the civilian world don’t always understand how or what veterans are actually going through, and so when we started this group it was more of a coming together as women veterans and uniting,” Decoteau said.

At every event they carry their titles and their flags with pride, hoping to inspire the next generation of women warriors – more women who will be proud to carry the title “Akicita.’

“For the youth being able to see that, who knows maybe they might look at that way too and maybe now some of the little girls might think ‘oh well girls can do it too,” Alameda said.

The organization is now working to expand to include all women veterans.

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