COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Editor’s Note: The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes National American Indian Heritage Month each November. We are highlighting employees of American Indian heritage throughout the month in honor of their enduring contributions to the agency’s global mission of logistics support to America’s warfighters.
What is your position title and role? I’m a financial systems specialist in the enterprise solutions and standards directorate at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service – Columbus.
What do you think about when you hear National American Indian Heritage Month? Being full-blooded Navajo, I have ancestors that I still remember having close contact with as a child. My maternal grandparents showered me and my sisters with much love and information about our traditional ways. My mother showed me what it was to be a godly woman and still hold onto some of her traditions. My father was a judge and tribal councilman who helped our people progress in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When my mother heard I got a job with the federal government, she said, “Always remember that anything you sign your name on reflects on all our family so always do a great job!” The month of November helps me emphasize my heritage. I’m proud of my heritage and I want others to know more about our way of life.
Who are some people of American Indian heritage you admire? There are so many Native Americans who are famous that I could name but one person in my family that I truly admire (along with my grandparents and parents) is Calvin Largo. He was my cousin. He signed up to fight for the freedom of our country on Dec. 3, 1967, in the Vietnam War. He was killed on Sept. 19, 1968, in Hau Nghia Province, South Vietnam. He was 23 years old. His name is inscribed in Panel 43W Line 039 on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. I admire him because he gave the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country and he knew what might be in store for him.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for American Indians today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them? The last time I was on the reservation in February 2014 I attended my mother’s funeral. It was obvious even then there was still racial bias going on there. I believe that the more we acquaint others with our way of life and educate them on knowing us better then I believe that will help racial tensions. I don’t believe in punishing others for what happened hundreds of years ago. That is gone and past. We need to move on and figure out ways to live in harmony and walk together in beauty.
How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? I have worked for the federal government since 1989 – 31 years.
Who would you say was your greatest influence in choosing your career? My mother was the greatest influence in how I ended up working for the federal government. Every job I’ve had has been a good one and I’ve always had great supervisors. It’s been a great journey of learning, helping others and making some lifelong friends.
What is your favorite thing about your line of work? I work at a systems helpdesk and I love assisting customers. Some of them are at the “end of their rope” and come to us frustrated and angry. I like doing what I can to help them solve their problems or help them find someone who can help them.
How has your family’s American Indian ancestry/origins influenced your life? My family always stressed putting others before myself, respect for my elders, respect for my parents, and respect for some of our traditional way of life. Living on the Navajo reservation wasn’t an easy life but respect for my mother (who did most of our raising) made me want to please her. My grandparents on both sides also taught me and my sisters the same things. Later in life when I left home and became a Christian, I found that a lot of what I was taught growing up on the reservation lined up with standards from the Bible. I was most pleased!
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you? I have two. First: Give your heart to Jesus – you will never regret it. I did in April 1970 and I’ve never regretted it. Second: I’ve truly loved my job at DFAS Columbus for 31 years so another great bit of advice came from my mother. She said, “The best job you can ever get is with the federal government!” She was always right! She worked as a head cook at a government boarding school on the Navajo reservation for 33 years. She felt she was always treated fairly and liked her job.
What personal accomplishments are you most proud of? This is hard for me to answer because I can think of accomplishments of so many other people! I love being a mother, grandmother, pastor’s wife, friend to others, etc. Each day I seek to do all I can to please God and that in turn makes life fall into place for me. Each day is a new accomplishment for me.
If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be? To be a better Christian today than I was yesterday.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Growing up on the reservation I don’t remember having a deep desire to a certain vocation. I just lived each day thankful for my friends and family.
If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? I’d love to have a real expensive camera and take pictures of all the things I see of beauty in the world (including people). God has blessed us with so much beauty all around us and I’d like to capture them to share with others.
What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you have ever done? Hiking in Ohio. When I was a few years younger I missed being out west, so I took up hiking with a girlfriend and we hiked many parks in Ohio. I discovered that Ohio is a beautiful state!
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? I’d pick a combination of two mottos: With God, “May you Live in Harmony and Walk in Beauty" (Navajo blessing).