JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. – Native Americans have played a vital role in the shaping of the United States and its culture since the country’s inception.
To honor the many contributions made throughout the years, hundreds of service members from across Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash., packed into Carey Theater, Nov. 19, to take part in the National American Indian Heritage Month Observance, hosted by the 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division.
The theme was "Guiding our Destiny with Heritage and Traditions," and focused on providing historical lessons of Native American history, and featured traditional dances and music from local Native American Tribes.
After the conclusion of the observance, those in attendance had the opportunity to sample authentic Native American cuisine prepared by family members in the 2-2 SBCT.
“The whole event is designed to provide an educational experience so that soldiers can have a 'better understanding of Native American heritage,'” said Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Vickerie, equal opportunity adviser for 2-2 SBCT.
“The purpose of the [National American Indian Heritage Month] is to show where the Native Americans come from, and where they are going,” said Vickerie.
The observance included guest speakers who spoke to the audience about the history of Native Americans, both nationally and locally.
“I am going to do something that is daring,” said Dr. Sharon Parker. “I’m going to try and give ten generations of history in a little bit more than 10 minutes.”
Parker currently serves as the assistant chancellor for equality and diversity at the University of Washington Tacoma and presented a wide range of Native American history and culture to the audience.
“I have a better appreciation for Native American [culture],” said Spc. Aric Krysl, logistics specialist with the 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2-2 SBCT. “It was very interesting to learn about our neighbors that we share this area with.”
Aside from providing a moment for service members to reflect on the history and contributions of people who helped grow and develop the United States, observances such as this help ensure the Army functions as a unified whole.
“It is important [to learn about other cultures] because we all have to come together and work as a team,” said Krysl.
Parker encouraged all in attendance to recognize Native American Heritage, “not just this month, not just this day, because we are living human beings.”