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    Native American Heritage celebrated with dance


    Photo By Sgt. Alexandra Shea | A member of the Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina Troupe performs a dance in...... read more read more



    Story by Alexandra Shea 

    Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office

    “We recognize and celebrate the integral role Native Americans have played in our rich culture, proud heritage and the building of this nation,” said Col. Stephen Aiton, U.S. Soldier Support Institute commander.

    “Every year Americans observe National American Indian Heritage Month during November.”

    More than 100 Soldiers, civilians and their Families gathered Nov. 15 at the Fort Jackson NCO Club to celebrate the observance with a luncheon and performance by the Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina Troupe.

    The troupe was dressed in traditional clothing and the men wore headpieces made from hawk feathers native to the Carolinas. Each drum song and dance performed represented a different daily event members of the tribe would commonly perform such as hunting and honoring family members.

    The luncheon celebration also happened to fall on a day known as “Rock Your Mocs,” a worldwide movement held annually by Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples where they wear moccasins throughout the day and post pictures to social media site hash tagging #rockyourmocs and #rym2019. The movement brings awareness of the heritage and culture of these people to the rest of the nation.

    “Throughout Indian country, it’s officially “Rock Your Mocs” day,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rocky L. Sampson, the guest speaker and a human resources officer assigned to the Pentagon and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. “Throughout America, tribal nations are putting their best moc forward and going about their lives showcasing their tribal identity and unity.”

    The troupe’s drum thumped as they stomped their feet after Sampson announced the moc day. The troupe was joined by other American Indians attending the luncheon by stomping their feet in “The native ways are often displayed as forms of expression,” Sampson said. “Artistically, ceremonially, verbally or through teaching.”

    The troupe performed several dances. Cones of aluminum jingled in time with the drum as the ladies of the troop performed several dances. The men waved wooden clubs and shouted as they danced in circles that represented a hunt.

    Sampson continued to recognize the many contributions of American Indians in defense of the nation. He spoke about the World War I and World War II code talkers who sent sensitive military messages across Europe enemy forces were unable to decode; Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe believed to be the first American Indian woman to be killed in action while fighting for the U.S. during Operation Iraqi Freedom March 23, 2003; and Pfc. Jesse Edward Oxendine, a World War II Army glider pilot who survived the war when so many glider pilots perished and helped liberate concentration camps in Germany.

    “These are my heroes,” Sampson said. “Not superheroes wearing capes but those who put their lives on the line for our freedom.”

    According to Sampson, more than 31,000 American Indians and Alaskan Natives are currently serving on active-duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. He also said more than 140,000 Native Americans are veterans. “Today’s military success depend heavily on Native Americans,” he said.

    As the speech concluded, the troupe performed a final dance. Attendees were able to meet the troupe members and take photos or ask questions of the them. One troupe member, Kemyoma Deese, had questions of her own to ask the attendees. Deese enlisted in the Army as a 13J – Fire Control Specialist and will leave for Basic Combat Training Jan. 12, 2020.

    “We all get the opportunity today, through great food, music, intertribal cultural presentation and guest speaker, to pay tribute to American Indians who have served with valor in our nation’s conflicts,” Aiton said. “Thank you for coming and (I hope) you enjoyed the program.”



    Date Taken: 11.15.2019
    Date Posted: 12.02.2019 10:03
    Story ID: 353976
    Location: FORT JACKSON, SC, US 

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