American Indian Color Guard

Tribal Nation Flag Protocol

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I received a message this morning that is perfect to help others understand this subject that many just don’t want to deal with. I’m dealing.

The Message

Good morning. My question lies with the correct order of precedence when carrying the flag of an American Indian nation flag in company with the US and state flags. I assume it is the US, the Indian nation then state, but I am drawing a blank trying to find a primary source reference that discusses this. I am going to run a color guard next month in the Nansemond Indian Nation reservation and would like to make sure I get this correct.

The Reply

This is an excellent question, sir. One that I have addressed in a couple of writings. There is some controversy over the issue, but I see it as cut and dry, honestly. Here are my thoughts:

According to the Supreme Court, an American Indian Reservation is a SOVEREIGN NATION. On reservation soil then the tribal flag takes precedence over the American flag, all flags.  The color guard would look like this: Right Rifle Guard, Tribal Flag Bearer, US Flag Bearer, State Bearer, Left Rifle Guard. If the color guard were to march in a local parade off of the reservation, then the US and tribal colors would switch.

I see it as the exact same situation where we in the military serve overseas and when we present the colors on the grounds of a US military cemetery, the American flag is carried to the far right. The host nation flag is then next to the left. After the ceremony, if there is a parade downtown, the colors switch places*.

*This is only for Army, Air Force, and Space Force teams, the others must form a separate three-man team for the foreign national, tribal, or US territory flag.

Again, some people do not support my thoughts here, wanting the US to always be on the marching right. I can understand that, but I also think it comes from a lack of situational understanding.

Essentially, you can form your color guard either way on tribal land and still be correct.

It’s about time, actually we’ll passed time, that guidance was set at both the federal and state level.

Please make sure the flags are in correct order and not backwards as shown here

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