FORT LEE, Va. (Nov. 13, 2013) -- Singing and dancing for the purpose of entertainment is one thing, but when used to educate, they can provide context to messages that make them more meaningful and substantial.
The subject in case was the National Native American Heritage Month observance held at the Lee Theater Tuesday.
The teachers -- the multi-tribal Youghtanund Drummers and Singers -- used music and dance to explain the culture of their tribes to dispel myths and bring clarity to a distorted image and history.
"There's a lot of misinformation about native peoples out there," said Youghtanund's youngest member, Sarah Arrigo, about its mission. "We are mythical to many people. They either don't know we still exist or they think we are what they see in old Westerns, and that's not truly what we are about."
The students, about 500 Soldiers, mostly from the Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy, packed the theater. They witnessed vocalizations, drumbeats and dances that accompanied messages and information ranging from the meaning of eagle feathers to the esteemed place of women in tribal societies. Near the end of the performance, many gathered around the drummers in a participatory number. One of the NCOs said the performances were unmistakable.
"To be honest with you, I thought it was a dynamic program," said Command Sgt. Maj. Clifton Johnson, LNCOA commandant. "I thought it was enlightening and you would have to be impaired in some way to not have a better appreciation for the history and culture of Native Americans."
Maj. Ebony Lambert was the guest speaker for the observance. The Installation Equal Opportunity Office coordinated the event, and the LNCOA hosted it.