The XVIII Airborne Corps Equal Opportunity and Team Bragg Equal Opportunity joined forces to recognize Native American Indian Heritage Month at an observance held Tuesday, at the Iron Mike Conference Center.

This year’s theme was “Serving Our Nations”, a nod to the service of Native Americans to the armed forces and to the nation.

“Native Americans have a long legacy of dedicated service to the XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg and the U.S. Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Hill, XVIII Abn. Corps, EO adviser.

“We want to ensure we take the time to recognize and express our appreciation for the past and present contributions that Native American Soldiers, civilians and Family members have made to this great country and our community. In celebrating Native American Indian Heritage Month, we hope to help enhance cultural awareness within the Fort Bragg community.”

Some of the featured entertainment at this year’s event was provided by members of the Lumbee Tribe, and included song, music, dance and storytelling.

“It is a time to celebrate all our rich and tribal culture,” said Col. Edward Henderson, a Soldier of Native American descent who is assigned to the XVIII Abn. Corps.

The culture of Native Americans is one that rest on specific values.

According to Reggie Brewer, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, those core values include belief in God, value of education and connection to the land and environment.

Native Americans, Brewer explained, are known as people of the dark river and use a river’s resources for their benefit. To highlight such skills, Brewer played a five-holed, cedar flute and demonstrated how indigenous people use river cane to hunt fish and animals.

Additionally, Native Americans use eagle feathers in clothing.

“The eagle is the highest (thing) to the creator and carries prayers up to the creator,” Brewer explained.

Other observance activities included different dance forms such as Eastern woodland by Kaya Littleturtle, butterfly by Sierra Mullin, old war by Nakya Leviner, healing by Taylor Mullin, and straight dance by Clarence Goins.

Music was also provided by the 82nd Airborne Division Brass Quintet and Native American dishes such as corn were catered by IMCC wait staff.

During invocation, Chaplain (Maj.) Elizabeth L’Eclair recited a Chippewa prayer that calls for Native Americans to walk in beauty and to have sharp ears to hear God’s voice.

Currently, more than 4,000 Soldiers of American Indian or Alaska Native descent serve in the Army and 24 Native Americans have received the Medal of Honor for courage and devotion to the United States, according to information provided by Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office.

In 1990, President George W. Bush designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month and similar proclamations have subsequently been issued.

No matter the year, Fort Bragg pauses to recognize their military contributions.

“From the Revolutionary War, to the brave Soldiers fighting in today’s conflicts, American Indians have served with honor and distinction,” noted Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general, Fort Bragg and XVIII Abn. Corps.

“... Our Army is much stronger today because we value the strength of a diverse workforce.