NEWS | Nov. 7, 2016

USARCENT observes National Native American Heritage Month

By Army Sgt. Victor Everhart Jr. U.S. Army Central

U.S. Army Central observed National Native American Heritage Month with a presentation Nov. 3 at Patton Hall.

Guest speaker Zan Tracy Pender, chair for the South Carolina United Methodist Native American Committee, explained to U.S. Army Central Soldiers the difficulties and hardships of Native American people during the presentation.

Pender enlightened Soldiers on legislation that challenged Native American people today, and the differences between how other ethnic groups are treated compared to Native Americans.

“People aren’t taught the evolution of Native American people in this country,” said Pender. “In history we go from the Christopher Columbus era to Western expansion and that’s the end of our story. But we still exist and have advanced like any other ethnic group, but unlike others our story is silent.”

Pender said, schools teach specific pieces of Native American history but fail to explain Native Americans today.

“Most people probably think that Native Americans are dressed how you see them in old westerns and haven’t modernized and that’s a problem recognizing that we have modernized like any other ethnic group, we have a past but we are not our past,” said Pender.

“I had never actually thought about how we were taught about certain eras in Native American history then they disappeared from the books,” said Sgt. Donald Reed, a medic assigned to USARCENT. “It was very surprising to me that they were involved with the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. I was never taught that in school and the speaker was right about them disappearing in history books.”

Pender said, there are lots of challenges Native Americans still face and the greatest challenges are not easy to do away with including fear of government, education and religion.

“Even with all the difficulties and trust concerns Native Americans may have they continue to serve and protect our country in great numbers,” said Pender. “That’s what we do, and I feel like people listening and taking information from this presentation will help give voice to a problem that is silent in the media.”