By Mindy Campbell, U.S. Army Garrison KaiserslauternNovember 25, 2011
The Apache culture is an important part of who Sgt. 1st Class Michael Nestell is and where he comes from.
Nestell, a Soldier from the 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment on Ramstein Air Base, was able to give fellow Soldiers and family members a glimpse of that culture when he donned traditional tribal attire and performed two dances during the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Native American Heritage Month celebration Wednesday.
In addition to Nestell's exhibition, the event, which was held at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daener Kaserne, featured speaker Lew C. Begay, Native American flute music by Kevin Morris, a sampling of traditional food and several tables filled with Native American memorabilia and artwork.
Nestell, who has been dancing since he was 12, was excited for the opportunity to showcase his culture and talent.
"Being overseas makes it a little hard to keep those things going," said Nestell, who has been in Germany since February. "I try to do as much as I can, with what I can remember, but it is hard keeping the language going because I am the only who speaks it."
The celebration was an opportunity for him to wear his attire, share his culture and clear up some misconceptions about Native Americans.
"Many people only know about Native Americans from what they see on TV, what they read in books or even in comic books," Nestell said. "A lot of that information is made up of half-truths or what is being pushed down."
By performing at the event, Nestell hopes to correct those misconceptions.
"Even in our unit, they see me in this and they ask questions and I am able to explain or address what is right or wrong about what they think," said Nestell, who was excited to see many of his fellow Soldiers from his unit in the audience. "I hope that they come away with a more educated respect towards that culture."
For Master Sgt. Tim Bombard, with the 18th Military Police Brigade, the event was great.
"I really enjoyed it," he said. "It was very informative. They had good speakers and great entertainment."