JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, ARLINGTON, VA -- Soldiers assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) celebrated National American Indian Heritage Month at the Community Center on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, Nov. 13, 2019. The celebration focused on the theme, "Honoring our Nations, building strength through understanding," and included a cultural dance performance from the Piscataway Indian Nation Singers and Dancers.

"The National American Indian Heritage Month observance celebrates the culture and contributions of Native Americans, while recognizing the accomplishments of the people who were the original inhabitants," said Lt. Col. Vance Brunner, commander of Headquarters Command Battalion at JBM-HH.

Since 1986, the President of the United States and Congressional resolutions have proclaimed a day, week and now a month of recognition. National American Indian Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the positive contributions native people have made to the cultural development and growth of the U.S., despite the struggles and challenges they have faced.

"National American Indians have served in the United States Armed Forces with honor and distinction, defending and securing our nation with their lives," said Brunner. "Nearly 20,000 people classified as National American are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force today."

In 1492, as many as 10 million Native Americans lived in North America, and by 1608, the Piscataway were the first Native Americans to encounter Capt. John Smith along the banks of the Potomac River. The Nation has existed for nearly 15,000 years and previously possessed territory that dominated all of Maryland, portions of Delaware and New Jersey, and areas of land in Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

Once one of the most populous and powerful tribes of the Chesapeake Bay region, the Piscataway Indian Nation Singers and Dancers conduct workshops, present lectures and perform authentic American Indian dance, drum and song. The Piscataway Indian Nation Singers and Dancers, traveling from the Tayac Territory in Port Tobacco, Maryland, welcome the opportunity to educate and entertain audiences who want to learn more about Native American history, culture and contemporary issues.