Powwow kicks off Native American Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Kirby R. Locklear
  • Thunderbird Intertribal Council
What began at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the First Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States has resulted in the month of November being designated for that purpose.

Nov. 4 - 6, at the Niceville Festival Grounds, the Eglin and Hurlburt Native American Month committees and the Thunderbird Intertribal Council present the 24th Annual Thunderbird Intertribal Powwow. This event kicks off Native American Month activities for the bases and local communities.

Early Proponents
One of the early proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans," and for three years the Scouts adopted such a day. In 1915, at the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, a plan celebrating American Indian Day was formally approved. The Association directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to set aside a day of recognition. Rev. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of American Indians as citizens.

Heritage Months
In 1990 President George Bush approved a joint resolution designating Nov. 1990 as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994. National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is celebrated to recognize the intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

24th Annual Thunderbird Intertribal Powwow
This native gathering is the largest and longest running Air Force sponsored powwow and features authentic Native American drummers, singers, dancers, story tellers, craft makers and more. The weekend will be filled with dancing competitions, performances, and exhibitions. As with all intertribal dances, the public is invited to join in and help us celebrate the culture of the first Americans. This year we are proud to team up with the Pensacola Mobile Vet Center of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This motorized vehicle - resembling a super-sized recreational vehicle - is driven to far-reaching rural areas to provide Veterans with services such as counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and military sexual trauma, bereavement counseling, marriage and family counseling, and resources like VA benefits information and suicide prevention referrals. No appointment is necessary. We hope the large military community takes advantage of their services. For more information on the powwow, call 850-863-5311 or visit www.thunderbirdpowwow.org.