Major General Michael Keltz of the United States Air Force resigned last month from his position as commander of 19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph after making racist remarks at an Article 15 hearing he presided over.
Acting as judge and jury in the April 9 case of a company-grade officer seeking reduced punishment in a previously charged misdemeanor, Keltz described the appearance of the accused in a photo as “drunker than 10,000 Indians.”
“The audience, which apparently included members of Native American descent, was taken aback,” recounted ex-officer Tony Carr on his public blog. According to Carr, several of the 75 audience members present at the hearing reached out to him with similar accounts of the situation.
The racially charged slur was later confirmed by a spokeswoman from the Air Education and Training Command.
“I inadvertently made an unfortunate comment, I own it, and I hold myself accountable to the same high standards my subordinate commanders are held to,” stated Keltz in the April 30 announcement of his resignation. He served 34 years in the air force.
It is a sad fact that many of the individuals serving as members of the U.S. military carry ignorant prejudices towards the Native population–just as countless other misguided citizens do. Anyone who volunteers to protect the people of this country should feel the same level of respect towards us all. We can only hope that whomever takes Keltz’s rightfully abandoned position is more informed.
The Lakota People’s Law Project feels strongly about the rampant issue of racism present in the United States. Along with working with Native people in efforts to recover from deeply rooted social, economic, and political injustices–we would like to bring awareness to these kinds of incidents and encourage people to confront the racism they encounter. If it weren’t for the public’s notice of Keltz’s ignorance, he wouldn’t have felt such pressure to resign. Small steps like these make for less and less tolerance for bigotry in the United States.