The 2018 National Native American Indian Heritage Month event was held at the Iron Mike Conference Center Nov. 27.

This year’s theme was “A warrior’s spirit: Contributing to our nation’s freedom” and the event was hosted by 44th Medical Brigade in partnership with the Installation Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office. During the luncheon, there was food sampling inspired by Native American cuisine, a cultural performance by the Southern Eagle singers, drummers and dancers and a static display.

Keynote speaker Mary Ann Jacobs, chair of the Native American Indian studies program at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, was invited to the event to deliver a historical presentation on notable service members throughout U.S. history who were of Native American heritage.

Observances like these are important because it’s an opportunity to educate others about diversity, said Lt. Col. Julia Kobiska, EEO program manager for XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.

“Today is the day we celebrate, and recognize the contributions, and the successes of Native Americans throughout our history and specifically to our military,” Kobiska said. “If we fail to recognize and educate others on the different ethnic groups (and) racial groups, then we will lose some of that heritage."

Jacobs hoped that if there was one thing the audience that afternoon could take from her presentation, was learning to understand and hence appreciate the history of each and everyone’s heritage.

“Serving together in equality is a very important thing,” Jacobs said. “It’s something native people have appreciated because of discrimination throughout history.”

Toward the end of the event, the Southern Eagle singers, drummers and dancers invited the audience to come up, hold hands and join them in a friendship dance. The dancers, civilians and green suiters danced in line around the main dining hall before a lunch was served.