America’s indigenous cultures should be embraced, the guest speaker at the annual National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month observance told Naval Support Activity Philadelphia employees Nov. 10.
Stephanie McKinley is a linguist, global liaison and cultural connector who was born into the Baule Tribe in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa.
“I like the term cultures because we all have different heritage, and it is all valued (in) this nation because we come from different places,” said McKinley.
Navy Cdr. Michael Krisman, material budget officer for NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, gave the opening remarks and stated there are currently 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Indian nations.
“During National Native American Indian Heritage Month, we celebrate and honor the culture, tradition and legacy of the indigenous people of America,” said Krisman. “This year’s theme, “Serving our Nations,” reminds us of the dual nature of American Indian citizenship.”
For her presentation, McKinley changed the theme to “Serve our Nation,” making nation singular because she said “all the nations in this nation make our nation.
McKinley showed two videos to help the audience get into the spirit of the event: Native Americans History and Culture and Oldest Native American footage.
McKinley spoke of the current protest of North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is trying to protect a river from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“They fight because the way they see it, they see the earth as a gift and that they came to be the caretaker,” said McKinley.
In closing, McKinley asked the audience to think of today’s youth.
“The youth is the future and the next generation,” said McKinley. “Any youth, whether it is Native American or other, is worth investing in.”
Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support commander, presented McKinley with a plaque as a thank you for speaking at the observance.
“I definitely learned something this morning,” said Hamilton. “She is definitely a global human being, and I liked the theme of one nation.”
The observance was co-hosted by the DLA Troop Support Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity office and the NAVSUP WSS Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee.