FORT HOOD, Texas - President Barack Obama signed a declaration naming November as the official Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month, Oct. 31.
Fort Hood held a Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month observance at Club Hood, Nov. 14.
Many artifacts from Fort Hood sites were on display at the observance to bring history to life for anyone interested.
Because of the limited number of prehistoric sites, the Army has regulations in place to ensure archeological discoveries are protected and studied, said Sunny Wood, staff archeologist with the Department of Public Works, Environmental Division, Natural Resources Branch.
“Cultural resources, like the archeological sites on Fort Hood, are considered non-renewable resources, if they get destroyed, we can’t get them back,” Wood said. “So we have one chance to protect the most important sites as we find them.”
Finding such sites is only a matter of looking out the front door, so to speak, as there are more than 2,000 archeological sites on Fort Hood alone, of which 300 are being managed currently, Wood said.
While American prehistory was featured, it was not the only aspect of the Native American culture to be celebrated at the event.
Dr. Daniel Gelo, Ph.D, who holds a doctorate in anthropology, and is the dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, explained the parallels between the American military and the culture of the Native Americans.
“The Warrior Ethos is ingrained in Native American Culture,” Gelo said. “In all of the plains tribes, young men joined a military society. Some of these societies pledged to patrol the boundaries of tribal territory, and others swore to unceasing combat against tribal enemies.”
Gelo went into great detail about how this culture led to the long history of Native Americans in the military from the first Native American brigadier general to the famous “Code-Talkers” of World War II.
Gelo quoted an excerpt from a Sioux warrior song that embodies the fighting spirit of both the Native Americans and the modern military: “Whatever is difficult, whatever is dangerous, that is mine to do.”