Presidio Observes National American Indian Heritage Month
November 20, 2009
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - "I was honored" was the sentiment shared by Native American performer Albert Tenaya after the National American Indian Heritage month observance at the Tin Barn here Nov. 18.
The event, which honored Native American Indians and promoted the understanding for their heritage, was sponsored by the Navy Center of Information Dominance Detachment-Monterey.
Lt. Cmdr. Leonard W. Caver, CIDD officer in charge, thanked all who attended the event. "Today represents a stellar opportunity to, once again, recognize our nation's unique cultural diversity," he said, noting that the event was particularly memorable as a result of Tenaya's willingness to lead an event celebrating the nation's Native American men and women.
Tenaya shared a story passed down through generations of his family. The story was in three parts, with a mixture of English and his native tongue, in song form.
"The songs were of an Indian story passed from Totuyo, my great-great-great grandmother and granddaughter of Chief Tenaya," Tenaya said of his cultural background as a member of the Ahwahneechee Paiute band of California Miwok.
Tenaya also performed traditional Indian flute music that included a moving tribute to those fallen from the Fort Hood, Texas, tragedy Nov. 5.
"I started playing for fallen brothers who have moved on to the spirit world," said Tenaya, who was also a former Army infantryman. "And I understand that playing for the Presidio in an event that may have been happy for them and hurting for the families at this time of thanksgiving during an event that affected all of the military."
Tenaya's military roots run deep. In addition to his own service, his father served as an infantryman during World War II and his younger brother served in Iraq. He said his strong military ties allowed him to understand the feelings of those involved and that he wanted to share his sentiment for the military members of POM.
"I felt in my spirit to acknowledge this and if there was a way to play for those families (in Fort Hood) I would," he said.
After his performance, Col. Sue Ann Sandusky, commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, thanked Tenaya with a certificate of appreciation and coin.
"I was honored to receive her gifts. Through her eyes I felt nothing but truth and gratitude," he said of Sandusky's actions.
"My father would be honored for recognition as a California American Indian; and having received this, I do for my father, my brother and myself," he said.
Tenaya said he left with an appreciation of being able to share with the group and he wanted the Tin Barn audience to leave with a deep understanding of his performance.
"I hope my performance helped ... people feel better about the culture and have a deeper respect for the Indian stories and songs," he said.