Fort Jackson honors Native Americans
November 12, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson will host three days of activities next week in honor of Native American Heritage Month.
The activities will begin with Trail of Remembrance educational walks at the on-post schools. C.C. Pinckney Elementary has its walk scheduled from noon to 2 p.m., Monday, while Pierce Terrace Elementary has a walk scheduled Tuesday at the same time.
Chiefs from local tribes will set up stations and lead informational sessions about their tribes and traditional Native American attire.
The festivities are not just for students, said Sgt. 1st Class Connie Miller, the 171st Infantry Brigade equal opportunity adviser and organizer of the event.
"Parents of students at Pinckney and Pierce (are encouraged) to attend the walks to meet several Native American chiefs from the local area and talk to them one-on-one with their children," she said.
Miller said she is happy the Army recognizes the culture.
"I love that the Army honors Native Americans because often they are overlooked and forgotten," Miller said. "Events like this let them know that we do care, we are listening and that we are making young Soldiers aware of their past and present struggles."
The theme of this years event is "Strengthening the Spirit of Our Nation," which Miller said she feels represents the community well.
"I really believe that the American Indian is the spirit of our nation because they were the original people of this country," Miller said. "Many of our traditions originate from them."
The week's activities will culminate with a luncheon at the Officers' Club from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, where Chief Steve Silverheels, a Seneca/Mohawk Iroquois, will speak. Silverheels' father played Tonto in the popular TV series "The Lone Ranger."
The event will also feature traditional Native American music and dance from a mixture of local tribes and food.
Silverheels, who is a minister, said that he believes it is important for the Army to recognize Native Americans because of their role in the military throughout history.
"Many Native Americans fought in wars before they were even able to be recognized as citizens. We have a tradition of being warriors," he said.
Miller said that Silverheels was selected because of his significant role in the Native American community.
"Chief Silverheels was chosen as this year's guest speaker because he is a motivational speaker for his people," she said.
She also said that she felt the events would be a memorable experience for participants.
"I encourage folks to come out to the activities to learn more about Native Americans, and see great entertainment."