Members of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community gathered for the National American Indian History Month observance Nov. 29 at the Tony Bass Auditorium on Clay Kaserne.
The observance was hosted by 2nd Theater Signal Brigade and featured a reading of the presidential proclamation for the month, a video presentation highlighting significant Native American figures and accomplishments, and remarks by guest speakers Steve Vance and Donovin Sprague, both Minnicoujou Lakota and family of Chief Hump and Crazy Horse.
Sprague, an author, actor and educator, gave a brief history of his people and several notable American Indians. He said there is much more oral history and tradition than what is recorded in official records.
“I know the history of my people in my heart and that’s what gives me strength and energy,” Sprague said.
He also highlighted the role and importance of service, especially in the military. Sprague said around 50 percent of American Indians are veterans of U.S. wars, the most of any ethnic group in America.
“The greatest honor is to be a warrior, man or woman, and today it’s the United States of America that our people stand behind,” he said.
Vance, a U.S. Navy veteran and tribal historic preservation officer, spoke about the importance of history and of knowing one’s origins.
“Protocol in our culture is that we tell where we’re from, not who we are. You’re judged by the people you come from,” Vance said. “I think it’s a responsibility for each of us to look at your foundation.”
The theme for 2018 National American Indian Heritage Month is “Sovereignty, Trust and Resilience.” U.S. Army Col. Neil Khatod, commander of 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, explained the importance of cultural and ethnic observances and the lessons that can be learned.
“Today we honor the accomplishments and history of our Native American partners, civilians, Soldiers, past and present, and as we look at that and we look at the future of what it means to us to be a diverse nation,” Khatod said.