FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Nearly 200 Fort Jackson Soldiers watched last week as members from local Native American tribes shared traditional dance and music, explained their culture and described the many contributions Native Americans have made to the military throughout history.

Sgt. 1st Class Connie Miller, 171st Infantry Brigade equal opportunity adviser, said she could not be more pleased with how the event turned out.

"Overall the event was wonderful," Miller said. "I think that the performances were representative of the culture, and accurately depicted the heritage."
The 171st hosted the event.

Highlights of the luncheon included a speech from Chief Steve Silverheels. Silverheels, whose father played Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," described the contributions Native Americans have made on and off the battlefield, and thanked those in attendance for their willingness to learn about another culture.

"As of 2007, more than 4,000 Medals of Honor have been awarded, and 25 of those were given to Native Americans, which shows our valuable contribution to the military," Silverheels said.

Col. Karl Reed, 171st commander, made Silverheels an honorary colonel for his service in the Army and to the Native American people.
Silverheels served in the 66th Artillery Unit in Texas nearly 50 years ago.

The event concluded with Craig Talbot, who is considered a holy man among his people, performing a blessing ceremony on Reed.
Talbot, whose Native American name is "One Who Talks to Doves," said that the purpose of the ritual was to bless Reed as he continues his Army career.

Master Sgt. Chanley Pickard, 193rd Infantry Brigade EO adviser, said the luncheon was a great way to learn about history.

"When you sit and listen to these individuals you will learn a lot more than what is written in our history books," Pickard said.

He also said that he felt such events are an important part of keeping the Army community strong.

"These observances enhance public awareness and education among all Soldiers, civilian employees, and their families of the contributions of all cultures and groups that help shape our great nation, thereby promoting understanding, teamwork, harmony, pride and esprit among all groups."

Promoting understanding and harmony is the reason Regina "Dancing Eagle" Tager said she chose to perform at the luncheon.

"It is about unity," Tager said. "When we know more about each other then it becomes more about acceptance and less about division and turmoil."