FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Native Americans have been defending this land since before it was called America. During the month of November, Fort Jackson will take time to salute their history and service during Native American Heritage Month.

The connection between the Cherokee Indians and the Army was passed down through generations and instilled a respect for armed forces in one Fort Jackson officer.

"My adoptive parents are Cherokee, so I grew up going to powwows. In the opening ceremony, there is always a color guard and prayers said for veterans of wars and those serving in uniform," said Chaplain (Capt.) William Beaver referring to the traditional Native American ceremony.

"It made an impression on me when I was younger. I learned that the Cherokee braves fought for the Confederacy and were some of the last to surrender in the Civil War. They were very vigilant in their fighting. So I saw it as an inspiration."

In Beaver's research as a student in the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, he found common threads between the medicine wheel used in Native American beliefs and the Army's model of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

"The medicine wheel is divided into four brackets that say a warrior needs to be strong mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It also deals with being strong within the community, not a lone ranger. It was mind blowing to see the similarities between the two," Beaver said. "When I shared CSF with Cherokee veterans, they were happy to see the Army embracing wisdom they have known to be true for years."

Later this month, veterans from regional tribes will come to share their knowledge with the Fort Jackson community in celebration of their military connection.

"We've been able to trace back seven generations to find that my great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War," said Chief Louie Chavis of the Beaver Creek Indian Tribe.

"We are a warrior people so it makes sense that we've been part of defending this land for so long," Chavis said. The Beaver Creek is a South Carolina recognized tribe that has a community located in Neeses, a small town in Orangeburg County.

More than 2,000 people are on the tribal roll, Chavis said. Members of the tribe will be participating in the Native American Heritage Month luncheon at Fort Jackson's Officers' Club Nov. 18.

"We are also going to have Chief William Harris of the Catawba Tribe come speak at the luncheon. I went up to Rock Hill to see their community and it was great to see their pottery and beautiful headquarters building," said Sgt. 1st Class Terrell Patrick, event organizer.

"We hope that people come out to learn more about the tribes here in our local area, because their history is part of what makes this country so great to serve."

Page last updated Tue October 23rd, 2012 at 15:34