FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Fort Jackson community will celebrate Native American Indian Heritage Month with food and entertainment from 11:30 to 1 p.m., Nov. 18 at the Officers' Club.

Soldiers, family members and civilians are invited to learn about the history and achievements of Native Americans.

The "Circle of Native Americans" will entertain with traditional dances and the post museum will be presenting a display depicting the heritage and cultures of different Native American Indian tribes.

"We hope to break down barriers, stereotypes and perceptions of Native Americans in addition to acknowledging the contributions Native Americans have made to the American culture," said Sgt. 1st Class Janeen Simmons, equal opportunity adviser for the 171st Infantry Brigade, which is hosting the event.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Confronting the challenges that face our nation."
Marcy Hayden, Native American Affairs Coordinator for the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, will be guest speaker for the event.

Hayden, a Native American who grew up in Orangeburg, said she plans to talk about how in tough economic times, Native Americans have, and will continue to have, an impact on American society.

"We have strong relationships; we are committed to each other and helping each other out," Hayden said. "And in times of need, we all band together and try to help out our communities."

She said she hopes to dispel some of the myths people have about Native Americans.

"A lot of times we get caught up in the stereotypical images that have always been portrayed about Native Americans through western media outlets," Hayden said. "We were the first people here and we do have a special culture that we need to keep alive, but our people go through the same struggles as everyone else. We're no different than anybody else."

About 300 people are expected to attend this year's luncheon, Simmons said.

Tickets cost $9.25 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. For more information, call 751-2990.