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Home : News : News
NEWS | Nov. 8, 2011

Native American Heritage Month focuses on legacy of ancestors

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

"American Indians: Remembering Our Ancestors" is the theme as Joint Base San Antonio observes Native American Heritage Month in November.

Storytelling sessions, a poster contest and an essay competition are among the activities at Randolph that will allow participants to take a look back at the contributions of America's first settlers during the month-long celebration of Native American culture.

Edward Blauvelt, Randolph Native American Heritage Month Committee chairman, said the observance will also give all people a chance to reflect on the legacy of their ancestors, regardless of birthplace.

"One thing we're doing is remembering our ancestors," he said. "We want people to think about their ancestors and what they've done for them. Are we taking what they taught us and moving in the right direction?"

Randolph NAHM events began this week with a storytelling session at the youth center. Another storytelling session is planned Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the base library.

Blauvelt, who traces his family's roots in the New World back to 1630, will lead the storytelling sessions resplendent in Mohawk regalia, including a "gustoweh" headdress. Though his European lineage is Dutch and English, he said he is also part Mohawk and Creek Indian.

The storytelling session at the youth center will feature Blauvelt's son, Evan, a 17-year-old senior at Randolph High School, who will play the cedar flute while dressed in Northern Traditional Sioux finery. Native American artifacts will also be displayed.

The month-long celebration will also include a powwow in the Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle, a JBSA event, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a Native American music presentation Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the youth center; a Randolph High School art exposition Nov. 17-28 at the base exchange; and a craft activity Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. at the youth center.

A poster contest for Randolph Elementary School third-graders will culminate in an awards ceremony Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. with prizes awarded for first, second and third places, as well as honorable mention. The winning poster will be displayed at the dining hall, the BX, Randolph Elementary and the library.

For Randolph High School students, a 500- to 1,000-word essay on the NAHM theme will provide an opportunity to win a $200 scholarship. The essays are due Nov. 30, and the scholarship will be presented at the January Randolph Field Independent School District board of trustees meeting.

Blauvelt, 12th Operations Group unit deployment manager, said a coin he designed for Native American Heritage Month will be sold for $10 each to pay for the scholarship.

The top side features a Northern Traditional Sioux dancer and the United States and Native American flags.

"That's a picture I took at a powwow," Blauvelt said. "Then it was turned it into a line drawing. It worked perfectly to symbolize Native Americans."

On the reverse side of the coin are the logos of the 502nd Air Base Wing and six major organizations at Randolph, including Air Education and Training Command, the 12th Flying Training Wing and the 19th Air Force.

Native Americans have played a vital role in the nation's defense, compiling the highest per-capita service record of all ethnic groups in America. About 44,000 served in World War II, 15,000 in the Korean War and 42,000 in Vietnam.