National American Indian Heritage Month

National American Indian Heritage Month

National American Indian Heritage Month Sovereignty, Trust and Resilience November National American Indian Heritage Month November is National American Indian Heritage Month, honoring American Indians and Alaska Natives. This presentation describes various facets of American Indian and Alaska Native life, including terminology, federally recognized tribes, and national sovereignty. Finally, it

honorsMs. Mary G. Ross, Honorary Chief Boatswains Mate James E. Williams, Staff Sergeant Joseph A. Beimfohr and Harvey P. Pratt. 2 Why are American Indians and Alaska Natives also referred to as Native Americans? The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) explains, when referring to American Indian or Alaska Native persons, it is appropriate to use the terms American Indian and Alaska Native. These terms represent the cultural and historical distinctions between persons belonging to the indigenous tribes of the United States and the indigenous tribes and villages of Alaska. The term Native American came into broad usage in the 1970s as an alternative to American Indian. Since then, it has been expanded to

encompass all Native peoples of the U.S. and its territories, (i.e., American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Chamorros, and American Samoans.) It also includes individuals from Canada First Nations and indigenous communities in Mexico and Central and South America who are U.S. residents. American Indian/Native American 3 Tribes American Indian or Alaska Native tribes are defined per the BIA as, An entity that has a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation. This government-to-government principle, which is grounded in the United States Constitution, has helped to shape the long history of relations between the federal government and these tribal nations.

Tribes 4 Tribal Sovereignty Federally recognized tribes possess certain inherent rights of selfgovernment (i.e., tribal sovereignty) and are entitled to receive certain federal benefits, services, and protections because of their special relationship with the United States. Today, there are 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages. Photo courtesy of US Army

Tribal Sovereignty 5 Mary Golda Ross The great granddaughter of John Ross, a 19th-century Cherokee Nation chief, Mary Golda Ross was born in 1908, in Oklahoma. Three decades laterafter teaching science and math during the Great Depression, she earned her masters degreeand was hired as a mathematician at Lockheed, where she worked with engineers on research that would spawn the space race. Lockheed trained her to become one of the 40 engineers (she was the only Native American and the only woman) working within its topsecret Skunk Works think thank, which would collaborate closely with NASA. The term skunkworks refers to small teams established to solve radical problems. Mary G. Ross

6 Mary Ross Ross and her team were among the first to envision how humans go beyond Earth, developing concepts for space travel, unmanned missions and orbiting satellites. She was involved with NASAs first-ever planetary flight handbook, and developed the earliest theories on Mars and Venus fly-bys. Her determination and accomplishments paved the way for future generations of American Indians and women to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math careers. She died in 2008, a few months short of her 100th birthday. Image courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian 7

Boatswains Mate First Class James Elliott Williams James Elliott Willie Williams is the most decorated enlisted man in the U.S. Navys history. He enlisted in the Navy in 1947, at the age of 16. He served for almost twenty years, retiring on April 26, 1967 as a Boatswain's Mate First Class. In 2004, the Navy honored him by naming a guided missile destroyer after him, USS James E. Williams (DDG 95). Boatswain's Mate James Williams James Williams Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy

8 James Williams Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Memorial During his time in service, Williams served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On May 14, 1968, Williams was presented the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the dedication ceremony of the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon for his courageous actions in Vietnam. He became one of thirty-two American Indians to receive the Medal of Honor. In 1977, he received the honorary title of Chief Boatswain's Mate.

9 Staff Sergeant Joseph Arden Beimfohr Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Joseph Beimfohr enlisted in the U.S. Army two days after his 17th birthday, with the approval of his grandmother, who had raised him. Serving in the military was a family tradition and he wanted the experience and money for school to become a police officer. In 2005, Beimfohr and fellow Soldiers were out investigating the execution of local Iraqi contractors. On their way back to the base, his lieutenant spotted a

copper wire. Beimfohr led a team to inspect the site and discovered a chain of bombs. After cutting the wire, another bomb exploded nearby. Beimfohr was hit by rocks and debris. He credits his men for saving his life. 10 Joseph Beimfohr He was later told that his left leg had been severed on impact. Every bone in his right leg was shattered. With his humor intact, he recounts the moment when the flight nurse asked for his blood type. I said B+. Well I guess my guys heard that and they interpreted it as me saying be positive. Be positive was exactly how Beimfohr approached his recovery. Yeah it sucks, but it doesnt mean your life has to stop. I was thankful to be alive. He remains active by teaching self-defense to people with disabilities and working towards qualifying for the U.S. Paralympics hand cycling team. Joseph A. Beimfohr

11 Harvey P. Pratt Harvey Pratt in Da Nang, Vietnam Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps Harvey P. Pratt U.S. Marine Corps veteran Harvey P. Pratt's Warriors Circle of Honor was selected in the National Native American Veterans Memorial design contest. An acclaimed American Indian artist from Oklahoma, his art will be featured at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He is a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member

and has been recognized by the Cheyenne People as an Outstanding Southern Cheyenne. Additionally, he was honored by being inducted in the Southern Cheyenne Chief's Lodge as one of their traditional Peace Chiefs. 12 Harvey Pratt Pratt described his design, The circle represents heaven, earth and the pathway followed by honorbound Native People. Water, fire and the drum are the central design elements within the circle. The outer wall is comprised of four sections. Legacy footprints are integrated along the outer walkway and represent warriors of the past, present and future; white (beginning), red (power of the Creator), yellow (Mother Earth), black (ancestors).

Groundbreaking is slated for September 2019 and the dedication of the memorial is scheduled for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2020. Artist rendering of Warriors' Circle of Honor Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps 13 Conclusion American Indians and Alaska Natives have courageously defended and shaped our countrys character and continue to build legacies of freedom and diversity. The Department of Defense, along with the rest of our nation, expresses our gratitude and

appreciation for the accomplishments and undeniable contributions of the first Americans. Photo courtesy Air National Guard 14 End Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida September 2018 All photographs are public domain and are from various sources, as cited. The information in this document is not to be construed as an official DEOMI, U.S. military services, or Department of Defense position. 15


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