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    NMCP Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

    Native American Heritage Month

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Kris Lindstrom | 171129-N-GN619-054 PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Nov. 29, 2017) – Pastor William M. Reid, a...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers 

    Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth

    Naval Medical Center Portsmouth’s Diversity Committee celebrated Native American Heritage Month Nov. 29 with a ceremony that included a guest speaker from the Meherrin Indian tribe of North Carolina and a display of the tribe’s arts and crafts.
    During the ceremony’s invocation, Lt. Cmdr. Devon Foster, NMCP staff chaplain, said that “From the Revolutionary War to this day, Native American Indians continue to share their unique talent and resilience as they gallantly serve our Nation’s Armed Forces. We are privileged to hear and to learn about who we are and how we got here as Americans. This month’s celebration acknowledged the important contributions of native people, and their impact on our way of life today.”
    The event’s guest speaker, Pastor Michael Reid, spoke about the history of the Meherrin Indian tribe, from the meaning of their name to how they got to present day in North Carolina and Virginia. Reid said Meherrin means “People of the Water.”
    “It means people of the muddy waters because our ancestors traveled along the inlets of the rivers where they would have the deer and all the animals,” Reid said. “They were able to raise crops because of all the water that was there.”
    Reid shared many aspects of their history, including their interactions with the colonists hundreds of years ago. As the colonists began to arrive, he said, the tribe taught them how to grow food.
    “They hadn’t raised any food, so our tribe started teaching them, which of course helped them survive and helped us survive,” Reid said. “As we became more friendly, Thanksgiving Day happened. Our ancestors provided a lot of food for the Europeans, and they provided also. We came together in peace, thankful to God for the provisions that were there, and for the friendship and love.”
    Today, the tribe works to help educate children about their ways.
    “At our small reservation, we have a pow wow every year to educate our children in the area,” Reid said. “We have a school day, a children’s day, and thousands of children come out and they are so eager to learn our culture. We also share different tribal arts and crafts with other tribes in Virginia and North Carolina during the annual pow wow.”
    Reid shared some of his crafts with those who attended NMCP’s ceremony and talked about the arts and crafts that his tribe designs and shares with the other tribes.
    Reid served in the Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s and also spoke about the challenges of the past that the Meherrin tribes faced and about the current challenges they face. He concluded with thanking the service members at the ceremony for their service to this country.
    NMCP’s Diversity Committee celebrates different heritages and cultural observances throughout the year. Hospitalman Billy Vaughn, who was the master of ceremony for the celebration, said this was a great opportunity for the command to learn about Native Americans and their history.
    “It’s a great opportunity to learn about the Native Americans, from their culture and accomplishments to their service in the military,” Vaughn said. “This means a lot to me since there aren’t that many reservations in the area. So this gives them some exposure to their community here.”
    The Diversity Committee’s secretary, HM2 Diana Torres, said that the committee’s celebrations not only affect her, they affect the command.
    “I am part of the Diversity Committee because I want to do something that makes a difference,” Torres said. “I want to be involved with a committee that is into a lot of different things that help bring us together because, to me, that is important. Events like this make me feel like I’m doing something not only for myself, but I’m doing something for everybody else to help educate them.”



    Date Taken: 11.29.2017
    Date Posted: 12.01.2017 10:33
    Story ID: 257045
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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