Native American dances were performed as part of the Native American Heritage observance, Nov, 27, to celebrate the accomplishments and partnerships enjoyed by Fort Carson and members of the surrounding Native American community.
November marks National Native American Heritage Month, as Fort Carson joined other observances across the nation to honor rich cultures, ancestry, history and traditions of the First People of this country. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the significant contributions of Native Americans to both building America and contributing to our armed forces.
"Throughout our Army's history, American Indians have served valiantly and with distinction in times of peace and war, while also fighting for the right to be an equal part of our nation. American Indians have a distinguished legacy in our Army," Army leaders said.
Army leaders from Fort Carson were joined by Don Coyhis, the guest speaker and president of White Bison Inc. White Bison Inc., an American Indian non-profit charitable organization, is internationally recognized as a Native American-operated training institute and center of excellence. It provides culturally based training for professionals and grassroots activists who work directly with individuals, families and communities. "We are standing on sacred ground," said Coyhis, "Today is part of the healing process."
Dressed in full Native American regalia, Brad Bearsheart, an Army veteran and member of the Lakota Tribe, performed the men's warrior spirit dance in honor of both past and present service members. Bearsheart says that he considers family as both his biological family as well as his brothers and sisters-in -arms. "Standing together is important as a family." Bearsheart also performed other native dances with his son and daughter during the observance. Ella Bearsheart, the veteran's 16 year-old-daughter stated that "When we stand together and show our heritage it shows others that you can show your heritage and be proud of who you are."
According to Coyhis, bringing back the ceremonies, the songs, and the dances that connect to their heritage brings healing, hope and inspiration. Celebrating their heritage is vitally important to helping younger generations not just to survive, but to thrive. He and his organization advocate for building on the knowledge and sacrifices of their ancestors.
"Each of us has the responsibility to take our knowledge and pass it on," said Coyhis.
Events like this observance help to build a common understanding, to exchange information, and to raise awareness thru history and diversity.
"You are the model of how that works," Coyhis said to attendees.
Following the observance, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division gathered to share traditional food and cultural displays. The event was sponsored by the 4th Infantry Division Equal Opportunity Office.