Fort Bliss honors Native American community and heritage
December 2, 2008
FORT BLISS, Texas--With every cultural heritage month, there is an opportunity for members of that ethnic group to present, share and remember their role in history. It is a time to bring culture, food, dance, music and the rest of their world to the forefront for all to enjoy and take part in.
Soldiers gathered at Soldier Hall to enjoy a Native American Heritage Observance.
The theme of this year's observance was "Living in Many Worlds." The ceremony included performances of Native American dances, a display of Native American art and presentations from Native Americans in the community.
Prior to the beginning of the observance, waiting Soldiers could take part in Native American trivia and facts on a screen before them. A four minute presentation followed the invocation, showing some of the key Native Americans that have been a part of American history. Included in this presentation were Ira Hayes, a Native American Paramarine who served in World War II and was forever immortalized in the image of planting of the flag at Iwo Jima; and Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving in the Army, said Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Warren, a communications chief with the 286th Signal Company.
The Tigua Indian Cultural Center presented four traditional Native American dances for the Soldiers in attendance. They performed the Buffalo Dance, sung to bless the buffalo hunt; the Pueblo Two Step, played after the cleaning of the irrigations systems to bless the crop; the Butterfly Dance, played the bless the butterflies which they believe allowed for a good harvest. Finally, the dance team performed the Eagle Dance, a dance to bless all those around them and carry their message above the clouds to the creator.
"This was a wonderful observation," said Sammy Gutierrez, the manager of the Tigua Indian Cultural Center and a Captain in the Tradition Counsel. "We always love to play for a packed house, especially when it is full of men and women who serve this country."
The final speaker in the observation was Jesse Manciaz, the assistant director for employee relations at the University of Texas at El Paso and a member of the Carriso Kickpoo tribe. He told the audience of the world he grew up in. He lived in a world of segregation and escaped through the military, where he and all of his comrades were all labeled "maggots."
"I think this is a wonderful observation," said Manciaz. "I respect the leadership at Fort Bliss for their sensitivity of other cultures."
The 286 Signal Company took charge in the mission of coordinating the observation.
"There was a lot of time and effort put into this ceremony," said Manciaz. "This is not just art and dancing, they really showcased Native American pride."