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    American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Recognition a Distinctive Part of Naval Hospital Bremerton

    American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Recognition a Distinctive Part of Naval Hospital Bremerton

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | Cultural song and sway...Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) staff members join visiting...... read more read more

    When visiting members of the S’Klallam tribe arrived at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) to take part in the American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month ceremony held on November 17, 2017, it was almost as if they were back on tribal grounds - which in a way they were.

    Since Naval Hospital Bremerton relocated alongside Dyes Inlet of Ostrich Bay in 1980, the command has been strongly associated with the culture, history and tradition of the Pacific Northwest indigenous tribal nations.

    The command logo, prominently featured on NHB’s quarterdeck, is decorated with Native American emblems.

    The outside of NHB features 58 classic symbols - ranging from 7 to 22 feet - of the Haida, the indigenous nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

    “To have local tribal represented in the logo design is a way to ward off the bad and bless the land upon where the logo rests,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (Fleet Marine Force) Masson Manson, from Kykotsmovi, Arizona, the home of the Hopi tribal government, and keynote speaker at the ceremony.

    The S’Kallam tribe members, from the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula, performed traditional song and dance for staff, patients and visitors, and shared cultural perspective notes. They explained the importance of cedar which is still used for everything from construction of canoes that can weigh up to 800 pounds, to traditional clothes, and how the type of wool used has changed over the years that included coming from the S’Kallam wool dog, a now-extinct breed.

    The name S’Kallam means ‘the strong, clever people,’ and signifies the tribe’s strength of mind, body, soul and spirit, which Manson recognized as being an extended family for him.

    “Having my extended family here helps to give thanks and blessing on this day,” Manson said, also explaining to the audience how if he was given the choice of choosing between parrot feathers and gold, he would immediately pick the feathers.

    “They are very powerful in our culture. That is also why when I see the two eagles flying over NHB, that is a strong signal for me. I have found three eagle feathers since transferring back here a year ago. When I pass them on to my children, they will share in the sacred cultural heritage.”

    Observant visitors who come to NHB for the first time can see that just outside the main entrance to the hospital’s quarterdeck are several of the Haida symbols representing Sun and Moon.

    There are additional symbols that combine Haida representation of the Beaver, Raven, Copper, Frog, along with the Whale and Sea Monster. Additionally, several of the symbols also feature a hand symbol which signifies a physician’s healing hand.

    “This event is a great opportunity for us to come together. It’s important to celebrate our diversity. Our country’s diversity gives us our strength. It’s our diversity that directly benefits our Navy and contributes so much to our military and Navy in particular,” said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, Naval Hospital Bremerton Commanding Officer.

    Since 1994, November has been the designated observance month to recognize American Indians and Native Alaskans for their respect of natural resources and the Earth and serving honorably in the United States Navy for more than 200 years.

    Since 1776, when General George Washington began enlisting American Indians for his Army, Navy, and Marines, American Indians have contributed significantly to the defense of America. During the Civil War, 20,000 American Indians served with Union Forces both at sea and on the land. During World War I, although ineligible for the draft, 15,000 American Indians volunteered to fight in the Great War. In World War II, 44,000 fought with distinction including 1,910 in the Navy and 874 in the Marines. For the Navy, two Oklahoma Cherokees distinguished themselves. Rear Admiral Joseph J. “Jocko” Clark commanded aircraft carriers and later a task force. Commander Ernest E. Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle off Samar, Philippines.

    Between 10,000 and 15,000 American Indians fought in the Korean War and more than 42,000 during Vietnam. In 1966, South Carolina Cherokee Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class James E. Williams, while serving at South Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, killed an unknown number of enemy forces while destroying 65 vessels and disrupting an enemy logistic operation. Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the three-hour battle against Viet Cong guerrillas with the two riverine patrol boats he commanded.

    In the early 1970s, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt sought to reduce racism and sexism in both the Navy and Marine Corps with Z-Gram #66 (Equal Opportunity) which benefited American Indians immensely. Rear Admiral Michael L. Holmes and Commander John B. Herrington are notable examples of the new opportunities for American Indians as a result of Zumwalt’s Z-Gram. Holmes served 32 years as a naval aviator, and Herrington flew for the Navy and later NASA, becoming the first enrolled member of an American Indian tribe to fly in space

    In the state of Washington, there are 29 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes out of the 565 nation-wide.

    The tradition of honoring the significant contributions of American Indian and Alaska Natives continues at NHB on a daily basis, from the command logo to the building design, and especially with staff members.



    Date Taken: 11.17.2017
    Date Posted: 11.20.2017 11:24
    Story ID: 255967
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

    Web Views: 565
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