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SD National Guard promotes first female Native American sergeant major

Elizabeth Crawford was promoted to sergeant major in a ceremony at Camp Rapid.
Staff Sgt. Breanne Donnell
South Dakota National Guard.
Elizabeth Crawford was promoted to sergeant major in a ceremony at Camp Rapid.

The South Dakota Army National Guard now has its first female Native American sergeant major.

The Guard promoted Elizabeth “Promise” Crawford in a ceremony at Camp Rapid.

“It gives me great pleasure to be the first to address you as sergeant major," said Col. Phillip Stiles of Sioux Falls. "You are an outstanding soldier; you’ve never disappointed. You are always a hard worker and I have a ton of respect for you. I would send my son or daughter to war underneath you any day, any time."

Crawford enlisted in the Army in 1996 and served for five years in Colorado and Germany. She transferred to the Army National Guard in 2002, where she’s served in a variety of roles.

Crawford incorporated her culture into her promotion ceremony with a traditional flag song, an opening prayer, and an honor song. She also presented three satin star quilts to her National Guard mentors.

“These men have provided me with sound guidance and mentorship that I have often relied upon their expertise and advice for over 20 years; it’s to say thank you for all of the support and encouragement they’ve given me in my career,” said Sgt. Maj. Crawford.

Marty Reum explained the significance of the star quilts during the ceremony, saying it’s a unique honor and token of respect of what the recipient means to the person giving the quilt.

Crawford is from Poplar, Montana and the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Indian Reservation.

She’s been deployed three times, once to Afghanistan, once to Kuwait, and once to Djibouti, Africa, where she was stationed with her brother. 

Krystal is the local host of "All Things Considered."