Native Americans, Fort Rucker Soldiers honor each other, history
November 18, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Members of many different Native American tribes and post officials took part in the annual Honor Our Armed Forces Native American PowWow in Daleville Nov. 13.
Col. James A. Muskopf, garrison commander, and Lt. Col. Joe Matthew, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment commander, attended the festivities and said they were honored to be part of the event.
"We come together today to celebrate your heritage, which is rich with a variety of languages, customs, dances and the ever important drum and music," Muskopf said. "Today, we not only want to celebrate your traditions, but we also need recognize the fact that Native Americans have served our country with distinction since the Revolutionary War."
Matthew, whose unit's sister city is Daleville, attended the event last year and said it's both incredible and inspiring.
"It was a little odd trying to dance while in a military uniform, but it was a lot of fun," he said. "Getting to learn something new is great. Seeing that the traditions of the past are not gone is really inspiring."
Rick Bird, event Master of Ceremonies, drove from Cherokee, N.C., to be part of the PowWow.
"This is a great community with a strong Native American link," he said. "I wasn't expecting such a big crowd, but it's a great turnout."
In 1996 the Department of Defense commissioned a study into the service of Native Americans, according to Muskopf.
According to the study, Native Americans fought for both sides as auxiliary troops in the Civil War, scouting the enemy was recognized as a keen skill of the Native American Soldier in 1866, so the U.S. Army established its Indian Scouts and in World War II, more than 44,000 Native Americans, out of a total population of less than 350,000, served.