JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., participated in a cultural exhibition as a part of the National American Indian Heritage Observance, Nov. 20. The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade hosted the event in order to recognize the accomplishments and culture of American Indians who have served and currently serve in the United States armed forces.
The event's theme was, "Serving our people, serving our nations: Native visions for future generations." The Department of Defense celebrates eight ethnic observances annually through the development of local programs of recognition and many diverse activities. They are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness and promote harmony among all military members, their families, and the civilian work force.
As a part of the ceremonies entertainment, girls from Chief Leschi Elementary School wore red dresses with black shawls as they sang traditional chants and held wooden paddles to symbolize rowing a canoe. They were accompanied by their co-ed classmates who beat on drums decorated with Puyallup Tribe symbols.
The child performers were followed by one of their Native American leaders Lawrence LaPointe. He's no stranger to the military; he served as a Marine during Vietnam. Now, he's serving his sixth term on the Puyallup Tribal Council. LaPointe is a self-proclaimed man of few words and he made that statement factual through the deliverance of his short speech.
"I'm appreciative that I was invited to this event," LaPointe said. "Its great to know that the Army takes time to recognize diversity."
Once he completed his speech LaPointe was given a few appreciation gifts from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan and Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell.
"It's good to see that there is no color barrier in the Army," LaPointe said.
LaPointe concluded the observance by presenting Buchanan, Troxell and a few others with colorful tribal quilts. Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Waseta was presented one for his help coordinating the observance.
"I enjoyed everything especially the school tribe," said Waseta, a native of Zuni, N.M.
After the quilts were presented guests of the ceremony were treated to flat bread, stew and vegetables, which are some of the foods that are traditional for the Puyallup tribe.