News: Hunting for Heritage
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Iraq – In an effort to share the poignant history, timeless wisdom, and rich culture of Native American tribes, the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) (ESC) sponsored "Heritage Hunt," Nov. 10, a competitive event that had participants learning about all things Indian while racing to points throughout the camp.
"We hope that participants will leave here with a better understanding of the contribution Native American people have made to not just American culture, but to the world," said 1st Lt. Thomas Bourne, 316th ESC adjutant, and himself of Cherokee ancestry.
Participants were given a tribe and tasked with learning facts about their tribe. Then they had to race from point to point throughout Logistics Support Area Anaconda, where Heritage Hunt staff quizzed them about their tribe. To advance to the next point, competitors had to answer questions correctly. Whoever got through all the points the fastest won. Questions posed included, 'What is the Trail of Tears?'
In one of the darkest episodes of American history, the U.S. Army forcibly removed Cherokee from their land, herded them into makeshift camps with minimal facilities and food, and then forced them to travel thousand miles to reservations. Many Cherokee died, hence the name: Trail of Tears.
"I hope this event sparked (competitors) curiosity and they will want to learn more about American Indian and Alaskan Native heritage," said Staff Sgt. Elginette Powell, personnel non-commissioned officer-in-charge with the 316th ESC. "There are just so many surprising and interesting things to learn about the culture."
The winning team was comprised of 1st Lt. Paul Aldaya and1st Lt. William Conners, both platoon leaders with 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment.
Conners, whose ancestry includes Saint Regis Mohawk, said winning the hunt was especially joyful for him given his Native American heritage.
"I am proud of my Native American heritage and identify with it a lot. Growing up, my family taught me traditional Indian crafts, I visited relatives on reservations, and that's why I made a point to come out to this event. We put in 110% into this."
The organizers of the hunt also put in 110% and saw to it the event built bridges of understanding and awareness among competitors.