In Indian Country, honoring flag might mean different anthem

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(Source: Andrey Bayda via 123RF) (Source: Andrey Bayda via 123RF)

As debate rages over kneeling for the national anthem, Native Americans have their own take on the issue as the population that has served in the U.S. military at higher rates per capita than any other ethnic group.

Across Indian Country, the American flag and veterans are deeply intertwined - and revered.

Many tribes even have their own national anthems that focus on veterans. The songs accompanied by slow drum beats are sung largely at powwows but also other tribal events.

Dennis Zotigh of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian says the reverence on display is almost sacred. Warriors are blessed through ceremonies before they encounter enemies, and welcomed back with parades, eagle feathers, cleansing ceremonies and songs.

Powwows often have a grand entry solely for veterans, who line up and can take hours to introduce themselves by name, military affiliation and years served.

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