Dar Scott’s United Methodist Church, Virginia Beach
JBLE Langley AFB Native American Heritage
COURTESY OF http://www.jble.af.mil/
Posted 12/6/2012 Updated 12/6/2012
by Airman 1st Class R. Alex Durbin
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
12/6/2012 – LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — The Langley Air Force Base Community Center echoed with tribal beats and chants as dancers paraded single file into the conference room, on Nov. 30. The volume of the dancers’ chants matched the music playing over the speakers, creating a powerful rhythm.
As the performers moved their feet in an intricate dance, waving their eagle-feather fans, their chief rattled a turtle-shell shaker that matched his full regalia – a stunning tribute to National American Indian Heritage Month.
Enacted in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, the month of November honors the contributions, sacrifices, achievements, history and culture of Native Americans and their descendants.
Department of Defense celebrates eight ethnic observances annually in support of Joint Congressional Resolution, Presidential Proclamation and achievements of all ethnic groups that compose the society of the United States.
The DOD has supported ethnic observances through the development of local programs of recognition and many diverse activities since 1968. The observances are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness and promote harmony among all Service members, their families and the civilian work force
“Observance months allow Service members to learn about each other,” said Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Torres, 633rd Equal Opportunity special observances advisor. “This event gave people a great opportunity to learn about Native American history and culture.”
This celebration of culture offered authentic Native American cuisine, art and music. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian tribe chief, gave an interactive oral history of Native American Indians and his tribe.
The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) is a state-recognized Iroquoian-language tribe of Virginia Native Indians. The tribe is based in Southampton County and surrounding counties from Virginia to North Carolina.
Chief Red Hawk is the elected leader of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) tribe. He was born on his family’s farm in Southampton County, Va., where he experienced the culture and traditions of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) tribe. He is deeply rooted in the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) culture, and can trace his Native American lineage back generations through both his paternal and maternal families.
Chief Red Hawk retired from the Army after 28 years of active-duty service, and tours of duty in Germany, Greece, Turkey, Korea, Italy, England and Japan. He said he uses Native American heritage events to teach others about his people, especially service members, with whom he shares a connection.
“It gives me joy to share my tribe’s history with Service members,” said Chief Red Hawk. “It is important to share the history of your culture with others, so that they may understand you.”
That culture includes a distinguished lineage of service to this nation. For more than 200 years Native Americans have served with honor in the U.S. military. Their courage, determination and fighting spirit were recognized by American military leaders as early as the 18th century.
“I’m proud to be a Native American who served my country like those before me,” said Chief Red Hawk. “The military helped me find myself. I am happy to give back in any way I can.”
Torres believes all Service members should take the opportunity to learn about all cultures and histories from individuals as dedicated as Chief Red Hawk. She encourages all Airmen and Soldiers to take part in observance-month events, as she believes that by understanding all cultures, Service members can work cohesively to accomplish their mission.
“There is something to learn from all observances,” said Torres. “Every great leader has said the people are what make the mission. Through understanding each other, we can accomplish anything.”