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News | Oct. 28, 2020

DLA Land and Maritime celebrates American Indian heritage in November

By Shawn Cody DLA Land and Maritime Native American Program Executive Champion

November is the month where time is set aside to recognize Native Americans and Alaskan’s prominent accomplishments and contributions to our country during the National American Indian Heritage Month observance. This year’s theme is “Patriot Nations - Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces: We have a sacred purpose to protect our land.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our normal Native American Heritage Program is being altered and instead we are going to be sharing several interviews with Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime and Defense Finance and Accounting Service-Columbus Native American associates throughout November.  I encourage you to spend some time and learn a little bit about your fellow associates.

Did you know?

  • According to the United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released this fall there are more than 6.9 million American Indians in the United States. DLA’s overall participation rate of American Indians is 1.45% while at DLA Land and Maritime 32 Native American – 15 women and 17 men –  account for 1.32% of the total workforce of 2,428 associates.
  • 31,000. This is the number of American Indian and Alaska Native men and women on active duty today, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world, according to information gathered by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. 140,000 living Native Americans are veterans. 11.5% of these American Indian veterans are women, nearly four percentage points more than the 8% of women among veterans in general.
  • Native American’s have always answered the call for service, having the highest per capita rate of people serving in the U.S. military than any other American ethnic group.  The “Warrior Tradition” is embedded in the culture and leads to service. Since September 11, 2001 nearly 19% of Native Americans have served in the armed services compared to 14% of all other ethnicities, according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
  • Army Pvt. Lori Ann Piestewa, a Hopi Indian, was not only the first woman in the U.S. military to lose her life in the Iraq War, she was also the first Native American woman to die in combat on foreign soil with the United States Armed Forces. 
  • The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is leading the charge to recognize the exceptional military service performed by Native Americans by establishing a National Native American Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. The memorial will honor American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans and symbolize the country’s respect for Native American’s service and patriotism. Harvey Pratt, a 77-year-old Marine Corps veteran and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, and a Southern Cheyenne chief, was selected to design the memorial from over 120 submissions. His design, entitled “Warriors Circle of Honor,” will center around a stone fountain shaped like a drum with a large stainless steel circle rising from the center. Visitors will be able to tie prayer clothes onto the four lances that will rise from a circular path around the drum.  The design incorporates symbols and elements common to many native traditions: fire, water, wind, drums, the cardinal points, and the circle shape. The use of circles suggests the cycle of life and death, and the continuity of all things. The stone drum symbolizes an invitation for people to harmonize their experiences with one another to the silent rhythms of the drumbeat. Congress initially gave the green light for the $15 million memorial in 1994, and a virtual event will be held on Nov. 11 to mark the completion of the memorial.

I would like to encourage you to take the time to learn a little bit more about the Native American experience over the next year.  As Central Ohioans we are fortunate to have many options available to us to explore and experience Native American history within a relatively short drive from our homes.  The Ohio History Center houses artifacts from Ohio’s past from the Hopewell era dated around 200 A.D. The Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, Newark Earthworks, Seip and Shrum Mounds all provide opportunities to explore some of that history.