18th MEDCOM (DS) hosts Oahu Intertribal Council

| November 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
Malia Mahi, a Taino from Puerto Rico, performs a traditional jingle dress dance, Nov. 13. (Photo altered to remove background elements.)

Malia Mahi, a Taino from Puerto Rico, performs a traditional jingle dress dance, Nov. 13.

Story and photos by Pfc. Bryan Faison
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support)

FORT SHAFTER FLATS — In observance of National Native American Indian Heritage Month, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) welcomed members of the Oahu Intertribal Council to a powwow at the 9th Mission Support Center’s assembly hall, here, Nov. 13.

“This month, we recognize the contributions made by Native Americans since long before our founding, and we resolve to continue the work of strengthening government-to-government ties with tribal nations and expanding possibility for all,” said Sgt. Jennifer Bach, motor sergeant, 18th MEDCOM, reading a presidential proclamation.

Bach is a descendent of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

The Oahu Intertribal Council is a nonprofit organization, incorporated in Honolulu on July 29, 2013, for the sole purpose of charity and education. Its brief history can be traced back to the early 1970s when a small group of Native American women recognized the need for a gathering place where Native American military service men stationed on Oahu could come together and connect to their native heritage.

Keynote speaker, Loa Simoes, of the Sac and Fox Bear Clan and president of the Oahu Intertribal Council, is herself a proud mother of an Airman.

After an introduction from Bach, Simoes helped educate the audience on efforts to preserve native pride and spirit.

Simoes said, “The spirit of native people is a way of life, as we believe all things are infused with spirit. … It is our spirit, perseverance and determination that keeps us together and united in all things.”

With an ever-changing political climate and constant challenges to treaty obligations through judicial litigation, the pride and spirit of America’s native people have been tested and continues to evolve through native activists, said Simoes.

“Our young people take their newfound voice in music, art, dance and social media to identify and connect with their ancestral roots and allow it to showcase their talents and beliefs about a better tomorrow,” Simoes said.

A powwow is defined as a gathering of Native Americans, where members of varying nations meet to communicate and preserve native customs through song, dance and traditional activities.

The powwow highlighted local talent and connected attendees to the native spirit that resides on the island of Oahu.

To further foster that connection, members of the council invited attendees to participate in a traditional round dance, where everyone interlocked hands and shuffled to the left while bending at the knee, in a circle, in rhythm with the beat of the drum.

The dance symbolized the equality of all in the circle while fostering community and renewing relationships. It was a celebration of Native American customs and identity.

More info

Learn more about American Indians in the U.S. Army at www.army.mil/AmericanIndians.

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Category: News, Observances

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