Sue Taylor, the senior education curator for the El Paso Museum of History, shows a display of Native American artifacts to Soldiers during the Native American Heritage Observance, Thursday. Photo by 1st Lt. Chad Cooper, 4th BCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs.
‘Highlanders’ host Native American Observance
1st Lt. Chad Cooper
4th BCT, 1st Armored Div. Public Affairs
Native American Heritage Month is observed every November in the United States. Although the first “American Indian Day” was celebrated in May 1916 in New York, a monthlong recognition of Native Americans did not happen until 1990. That year, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Since then, the title has expanded to celebrate the heritage, history, art and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
In honor of this year’s National American Indian Heritage Month, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, hosted this year’s event at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center at East Fort Bliss Thursday.
“Throughout our history, Native Americans have played a significant role in developing our culture, and to honor that history we hold this observance today,” said Col. Scott McKean, brigade commander.
The theme of this year’s observance was “Life is Sacred.”
The Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo (“the Pueblo”) is a U.S. federally recognized Native American tribe and sovereign nation. The Pueblo is one of three tribes located in Texas and the only Pueblo located in the state.
The Tribal community, known as “Tigua,” was established in 1682 after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Since then, the tribe has retained a significant presence in the El Paso region and maintains its traditional political system and ceremonial practices.
“The purpose of this is to increase awareness and understanding of the diversity that lies within the American heritage and culture,” said McKean.
The guest speaker, former governor of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, Art Senclair stated, “It is important to educate everyone around us on the importance of honoring the Native American culture and their contributions to the nation since we all have to be able to live together as one here in the Sun City.”
The sounds of the ancient Tigua were experienced through songs of the Pueblo social dancers giving Fort Bliss Soldiers a glimpse into five centuries of rich Pueblo history and tradition.
The dancers demonstrated three ceremonial dances such as the Eagle Dance, a tribute to the great bald eagle, which is respected and honored by Pueblo.
“As military members we have to understand the pride and dedication Native Americans have shown this country,” said McKean.
The El Paso Museum of History and the Museum of Archaeology were able to set up a display of Native American artifacts offering Sun City Soldiers an inside look on the an array of jewelry and artifacts that will make for a great memorable experience.
“It was nice to come out and participate in this opportunity to display and showcase Native American heritage to these great Soldiers,” said Sue Taylor, the senior education curator for the El Paso Museum of History.
America’s indigenous people and the foods they grew, hunted and gathered, have not only shaped modern American food, but also cuisines all over the world. Fort Bliss Soldiers had an opportunity to try dishes that were enjoyed by the Native Americans at the Highlander Dining facility.
“I was very excited and proud that the event had such a huge turnout,” said Capt. Antonio Chavez, assistant logistical officer for the Highlander Brigade. “It was a great success for the unit, the post and the Army and we should all share a great pride in this.”
Many Soldiers share a strong bond with the values that Native Americans have.
“They represent the best in warrior tradition; strength, honor, pride, devotion and wisdom and these qualities make the perfect fit with the military tradition,” closed McKean.