NEWS | Nov. 20, 2018

USARCENT celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month

By Sgt. 1st Class Christal Crawford U.S. Army Central

The month of November is designated by Congress and the President as a time to reflect on the rich traditions and accomplishments, as well as suffering and injustices, which mark the history of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Today, U.S. Army Central celebrates National American Indian Heritage with an observance ceremony and guest performances by members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. 

“Today’s observance is to provide awareness and recognition of the significant contributions the first Americans made for the establishment and growth of America,” said Matthew Byers, master of ceremonies for the observance at Patton Hall. 

In celebrating Native American Heritage Month, USARCENT recognizes not only the significance of individual contributions, but also the value of diversity and an inclusive environment. USARCENT leaders will continue to work to ensure all Soldiers and civilians have the opportunity to maximize their unique talents and potential. 

There are 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native nations, each with their own unique history, beliefs, governance structure and culture. The Lumbee Tribe is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi river, comprising 55,000 members and who reside primarily in Robeson, Hole and Scotland counties of North Carolina. It is the ninth largest tribe in the nation. 

Kaya Littleturtle is the cultural enrichment coordinator for the tribe and grew up learning the ways of his people. Among the teachings, he said he was taught respect for elders and respect for veterans. “To be able to come here and perform and have fellowship with veterans is awesome for us,” said Littleturtle. 

The Lumbee Tribe has been recognized by N.C. since 1885. At the same time, they established a separate school system that would benefit tribal members. In 1956, the United States Congress passed a bill recognizing the Lumbee as Indian, but denied the tribe the full status as a federally recognized Indian tribe. Federal recognition for the tribe is currently being sought through federal legislation. 

The observance included traditional tribal artifact displays, as well as a performance of traditional cultural dancing and singing by members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. 

Historically, American Indians have the highest record of military service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. More than 9,000 Native Americans serve in the total force today and are critical members of the U.S. Army team. USARCENT is dedicated to leveraging the strength of its diverse force and ensuring equality for all its members.