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Fort Rucker celebrates Native American Heritage, impact

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  • Fort Rucker celebrates Native American Heritage, impact

    FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2014) -- Native Americans have contributed much to the United States, including the introduction of different foods, animals and agriculture, but many Native Americans have also impacted the nation by serving in the military.

    That's why Fort Rucker and the equal opportunity office are making sure to bring awareness to the installation to celebrate Native American History Month with the kickoff event held at the post exchange Nov. 14, said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Garcia, 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser.

    Garcia said it's important to show Native American heritage and educate people on the contributions they've made to the nation.

    "Native Indian and Alaskan Native heritage is a rich part of our country's history, so much so that parts of this heritage was a model for the development of the U.S. government," he said. "Native American and Alaskan Native culture has profoundly shaped this country and our way of life, and we honor this esteemed history by observing and celebrating those contributions."

    The event featured the Choctaw Tribe drum group from Mississippi, as well as Native American Food samplings that included hefty servings of bapa souz, wojapi, wasna, and hominy and chicken -- traditional Native American dishes. The event also featured vendors, cultural displays and some traditional dancing.

    The drum group opened the ceremony with an introduction song, and followed with a veteran's song to honor those who have fought for the nation, said Richard Greybull, member of the Dakota tribe.

    "When veterans come home, we honor them with the song for our veterans and we perform a dance to show that we appreciate them," he said during the kickoff event. "Without our veterans, we wouldn't be able to share our culture or have the freedom to show how much our people have contributed to society and that we are all proud to be Americans."

    The celebration was also a means to bring many Native American tribes together, and the various tribes included the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek and Dakota tribes.

    Jeremy Barnes, military family member, said it's always nice to see the different heritages celebrated here at Fort Rucker because it reminds him that our nation is made up of many different cultures.

    "That's one thing we can't forget in our country is that most of the people that live here are mostly descended from immigrants, except for Native Americans," he said. "That's why we need to continue to remember everything they've given to us, as well as everything they've sacrificed over the years."

    Laura Antley, military spouse, agreed and said that having the opportunity to sample another culture's heritage is important for growth.

    "It's important to broaden horizons and show people that there are other ways of life and other upbringings than that of their own," she said. "Not everyone was raised the same way and not everyone comes from the same background, so understanding that people come from all walks of life is important to being a well-rounded human being -- it's what makes us special."

    In addition to the kickoff, a book reading was held at the center library to provide a learning experience to the children of the Fort Rucker community on the contributions and heritage of Native Americans, said Garcia. During the reading, children also had the opportunity to create Native American themed arts and crafts, and sample some Indian fry bread.

    "Diversity is the core of our society and the fabric of who we are as Americans," said the EO adviser. "It is important for all citizens to recognize and embrace the strength that comes from those different attributes and backgrounds that make up the American people."

    The last event to recognize Native American Heritage Month will be a bowling tournament held at Rucker Lanes Nov. 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., which will feature a trivia contest with prizes, learning, fun and a bit of friendly competition.

    By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff Writer

  • #2
    American Indian Heritage Month Wash D.C.

    Education is American Indians' Future, Speaker Tells Federal Audience

    Carrie Billy, president and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, speaks at a National American Indian Heritage Month program in Washington, D.C.

    Photo Credit: Joshua Denmark

    Native pride and education were the focus of a Nov. 19 address by Carrie Billy, president and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month.

    “As native people, we have creation stories that explain our emergence from sacred places from within the land and the sky. We are all people of this place and this land,” Billy asserted during her address at the Department of Commerce Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

    She also talked about how American Indians rose from “this circle of our collective histories, culture and spirituality, which includes those who proposed to crush our spirits and identity.”

    “The resilient spirit of the American Indian people could not be vanquished as the first tribal college emerged in 1968,” Billy said. ”Education has always been important to American Indians and represents a new world of opportunity and hope for our children and our children’s children. The tribal colleges share the same vision—strong, sovereign nations through excellence in tribal higher education.”

    Billy expressed her appreciation of federal agency partnerships, as they “are essential to the realization of our vision for native people,” she stated. “We are always striving to achieve our vision through partnerships with people like you, for our vision for all tribal nations, through excellence and tribal education,” she stated. “The power of working together has really transformed our communities and will transform our future for generations to come.”

    This year’s theme for National American Indian Heritage Month is “Native Pride and Spirit: Yesterday, Today and Forever.” The celebration honors the contributions, achievements, sacrifices, and cultural and historical legacy of the original inhabitants of what is now the U.S. and their descendants: the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

    The American Indian Heritage Month program was sponsored by Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Agency for International Development.

    Carrie Billy, president and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, speaks at a National American Indian Heritage Month program in Washington, D.C.

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