SUFFOLK, Va. — More than 300 Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR); Naval Network Warfare Command (NAVNETWARCOM); Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Suffolk; Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) and DoD Joint Staff Hampton Roads members came together on Nov. 14 for an observance of a multi-cultural event to celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month.
Capt. William Chase, Chief of Staff, Naval Information Forces, delivered the ceremony’s opening remarks. This year’s theme was "Standing Together.”
“Native Americans serve in the military at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States and they have served honorably in the United States Navy for more than 200 years and distinguished themselves in every war,” said Chase. “Today more than 9,000 Sailors and 2,000 civilians of Native American heritage stand with us in the United States Navy and those that came before us have quite a legacy.”
Chase was referring to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute’s (DEOMI) poster which depicted embedded images of past and present Native Americans into Piestewa Peak, the second highest point in the Phoenix Mountains. The poster includes a key describing each of the images and their contributions during their military service.
Chief Walter D. “Red Hawk” Brown III, the elected Chief of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, South Hampton County, Virginia, served as guest speaker for the event held in the DoD Suffolk complex’s Hall of Heroes auditorium.
Brown and seven of his tribal members entered the auditorium dancing in traditional Cheroenhaka attire, with “Pow Wow” drums beating in the background. He presented Chase with the ceremonial Wampum belt.
The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) people are a tribe of Native Americans who are presently creating a museum at Palisade Village near Courtland, Virginia, according to Brown who went on to explain the history of his tribe during the presentation. Brown emphasized that in the 17th century Virginia Indians (natives) were divided into three language groups; Algonquin speakers, Siouan speakers and Iroquoian speakers.
“The Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) are Iroquois (Algonquin) speakers,” said Brown. “Chero-en-ha-ka is Iroquois for ‘People at the fork of the stream.’
The Chief paused several times during his address to involve the audience by saying a word in his native tongue and they repeated it. He closed his speech with these thoughtful words … “May your walk in the sacred circle of life, better the walk of another that will follow — our children.”
Chase and the Chief cut a cake marking the event and all were invited to enjoy popular Native American dishes, as well as view pictures and artifacts.
National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the original inhabitants, explorers, and settlers of the United States. It wasn’t until 1986 that Congress passed a proclamation authorizing American Indian Week. In 1990, the
month of November was designated as National American Indian Heritage Month.
For more information on Naval Information Forces, visit the command's web site at www.navifor.navy.mil, our Navy News Web page at www.navy.mil/local/navifor/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces/.