ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Kim Sigafus McIver, award-winning Ojibwa author, spoke during the National American Indian Heritage Month observance at Heritage Hall, here, Nov. 21.
"I love sharing my culture with people," said McIver who told the audience she began to seek knowledge of her native heritage as an adult. That is when her uncle gave her the Ojibwa name, Bekaadiziikwe, which means "Quiet Woman."
Wearing her traditional native dress, McIver explained how her grandfather was born and raised on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, and her father, who died when she was a one-year old, was born there. Raised by her Irish Catholic mother, she lost touch with her father's family.
McIver explained the drum is considered a woman's instrument. In her culture it represents Mother Earth and always has a steady beat, like a heart. Beating her handheld bright red drum, McIver sang an Ojibwa lullaby.
Larry Lockwood, an enrolled tribal member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana, explained the long tradition and importance of honoring warriors. He described a Northern Cheyenne warrior sect known as the Dog Soldiers. They were the ones who put themselves between people and danger.
Lockwood performed a war dance song while keeping beat on a large drum. Later he requested the audience stand while he played a Cheyenne flag song. This is the oldest song known to Lockwood and honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Lockwood followed this with a Navajo veteran's song to honor warriors still serving the people.
Command Sgt. Maj. Marco Torres, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, attended the celebration and thanked the participants. He presented McIver with a plaque of appreciation upon conclusion of the celebration.
The U.S. Army Sustainment Command Equal Opportunity Office hosted this year's observation. Native food was prepared by Treat America Dining and included poyha, a meatloaf with cornmeal and grapes; posu bowl, a rice dish served with a choice of salsa; sweet potato pudding containing cornmeal; and a sweet and tart beverage made with muddled strawberries, blackberries and cranberries.
National American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated in November to honor American Indians and Alaska Natives. This year's theme is "Honoring Our Nations: Building Strength Through Understanding."