OPERATING LOCATION ADDER, Iraq Service members at Contingency
Operating Location Adder, Iraq, attended a National Native American
Heritage Month observance Nov. 14 at Memorial Hall to honor the
tradition and culture of Native Americans.
Force Volunteer, with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which
includes the 1115th and 720th Transportation Companies from New
Mexico, two units with strong Native American contingencies, hosted
the event. The observance included traditional Native American speaking,
dancing, singing and drumming.
Ervin Garcia, with the 1115th Transportation Company and a member
of the Dine tribe in the southwest United States, also known as
the Navajo nation, spoke his traditional Navajo language and translated
it to English as the narrator of the event.
said Native Americans have served in and alongside the United States
military since the Revolutionary War and represent the highest per
capita enlistment of any ethnic group in the United States.
Mary Ann Bullhead-Chavez, a military police officer with the 720th
Convoy Support Battalion, out of Albuquerque, N.M., read the month's
proclamation from President Barack Obama and performed a women's
northern traditional dance, which originated from the Native American
a Red Lake, Ariz., native, said she believed dancing for her Soldiers
would help them understand her culture and learn more about her
as a person.
have been dancing ever since I was a little girl, but it was different
dancing here in Iraq," she said. "I think they saw a part
of me that they have never seen before, as far as my culture and
what I do away from the (Army combat uniform)."
said the dance is one of the oldest, used to show grace and elegance
to symbolize the earth and the beauty of the Native American woman.
William P. Estevan, a truck driver with the 1115th Transportation
Company out of Toas, N.M., shared a part of his culture by singing
a traditional song, the Flag Song, and a song he helped write which
was dedicated to the Soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom, called
the "OIF Intertribal Song."
was my second time singing this song over here in Iraq," said
Estevan, an Acoma Pueblo, N.M., native. "The song was pretty
much put together from all the things that Soldiers go through
from support from their family, to doing their job out here, to
being a part of a tradition that they can be proud of."
said he shares his culture with his fellow Soldiers because it helps
them become more aware and understanding of Native Americans' backgrounds.
He said Native Americans are brought up in a hard-working culture,
which makes them good Soldiers.
said the proud history of Native Americans in the U.S. military
includes the famous Navajo code-talkers of World War II.
Navajo code-talkers, as they would become known in military history,
created the most ingenious and successful code," he said. "Their
unbreakable code was pivotal to hastening the end of WWII and saving
countless American lives."