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NEWS | Nov. 24, 2009

Lackland celebrates Native American Heritage

By Annette Janetzke Defense Language Institute English Language Center

Team Lackland celebrated Native American Heritage month Nov. 16 with a program at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center honoring the contributions of Native Americans to American history and culture.

Retired DLI instructor Roxeana Kimmel, from the Choctaw Nation, began the program with a traditional blessing ceremony. "I hope your day is good and the sun shines on you forever," she said to an audience of nearly 300.

Following the blessing, guest speaker Tosawi Marshall, Executive Director for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas and a member of the Comanche Nation, talked about Native American life in the workplace past, present and future.

Sharing experiences from a career spanning more than 20 years in film and television, Ms. Marshall talked about the struggles Native Americans have had in their fight for equality and the importance of remembering their contributions.

"Culture and heritage are what we stand on. To honor our country, (we) remember the past to get to the future," she said.

Later, a colorful performance by the Keetowah Indian Dancers gave the audience an opportunity to learn about the significance of several dances, including the flag, traditional and straight dance.

Josephine Nelson, an instructor with DLI, said her class enjoyed the program and learned a lot about Native American history. They were especially impressed with how the U.S. appreciates and celebrates cultural differences, she said.