Fort Lee Celebrates Native American Indian Heritage Month

Members of the 244th Quartermaster Battalion helped Team Lee celebrate Native American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 20 in Lewi Auditorium.

After a brief history of Native Americans and the origin of Native American Indian Heritage Month by Sgt. 1st Class Tamesha Hobbs, Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Capt. Tabitha Reid, Company E commander, 244th QM Bn., 23rd QM Brigade, welcomed the Team Lee members to the observance.

“The strength of our nation comes from its people; and as the early inhabitants of this great land, native Americans have played a unique role in the shaping of our nations history and culture,” said Reid. “Their unique spiritual, artistic and literary contributions, together with their vibrant customs and celebrations, have invigorated and enriched this great land.”

Reid said it’s important to remember the contributions of ethnic groups in the military and also to promote goodwill between cultures.

“We are here to celebrate and commemorate the fact that half of America’s Native American tribal leaders have served in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 200 years,” said Reid. “Special ethnic observances, such as this one, are used not only to recognize the achievements and contributions made members of a specific ethnic group in our society but also to promote understanding, teamwork, harmony, pride and espirit among all groups and foster cross-culture awareness among all Soldiers, Civilian employees and their Families.”

Several Native American Soldiers from the 244th QM Bn. participated in a special presentation honoring the five Native American Medal of Honor recipients. Each Soldier read the name of a Medal of Honor recipient and a short citation about the actions that earned them the medal.

Pvt. Valencia Yazzie, 244th QM Bn., is part of the Navaho tribe, and performed a tribal dance. The tribal dance was to celebrate the returning of warriors from their battle.

This year’s guest speaker, Craig Oxendine, of the Lumbee Tribe, spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, and his three brothers served in the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. The Lumbee is a Native American tribe from North Carolina.

After giving a history of the lost colony at Roanoke, Oxendine said several surnames from the manifest of the colonists in Roanoke can be found in the Lumbee tribe. It is suspected that the colony joined with members of the Lumbee tribe to survive in the new world, said Oxendine.

Oxendine gave a history of a few Lumbee members and their struggle to get the Lumbee tribe recognized. He said the Lumbee tribe is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River.

Lt. Col. Spencer Smith, 244th QM Bn. commander, thanked Oxendine for his remarks and thanked all for attending the ceremony.