ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- In celebration of the many contributions Native Americans have made and continue to make to America, the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) hosted the Team Aberdeen Proving Ground's (APG) National American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 20.

This year's national theme is "Sovereignty, Trust, and Resilience," which was built by Native Americans to form a legacy of courage, professionalism, and selfless service.

The commanding general of ATEC, Maj. Gen. Joel K. Tyler, welcomed the audience by explaining the importance of this year's theme and why Native Americans deserve such credit.

"This year's theme encapsulates the honorable service, dedication, and distinction of Native Americans and Alaskan Native Americans who blazed trails and changed the course of America's history forever by being the first environmentalists, understanding that air, water, plants, and animals must be treated with respect if they are to remain available for generations to come."

As the Native Americans and Alaskan Natives were the first Americans, Tyler also added they have distinguished legacies in the military and Government service, as many thousands have fought in every war since America's founding and in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tyler introduced the guest of honor, Mark "Wild Turkey" Tayac, with the Piscataway Indian Nation, who continues to carry forward the proud culture and Native American heritage and traditions to share with the current and future generations.

In addition to carrying the Piscataway culture, heritage, and conditions throughout his life, as his relatives once did, he is also the creator of the Piscataway Indian Nation Singers and Dancers.

The group is a Native American cultural and educational music dance group who has traveled the world sharing the Piscataway cultures and beliefs through songs, dances and storytelling to celebrate the rich and diverse tribal culture and to honor the rich diversity of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.

"Many of the dances presented are dances that have been passed down from generation after generation," said Tayac, as he started to introduce the different dances and the meanings behind each dance.

Tayac welcomed the dancers to the floor where they performed the Grand Entry Dance, War Dance, Men's Hunting Dance, Rabbit Dance, Women's Fancy Shawl Dance, and Eagle Dance.

The event concluded with offerings of Native American food.