Yokota rings in American Indian Heritage Month
Airman 1st Class Joseph Odonnell, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels facilities technician, ushered in the 25th anniversary of National American Indian Heritage month in full regalia at Yokota Air Base on Nov. 2.
Odonnell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe of Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Sioux and the Gros Ventre tribe of central Montana, performed the Chicken Dance during the National American Indian Heritage month kick-off ceremony.
According to tradition, the dance formed when Blackfoot hunters killed a dancing bird during mating season and ate it. The bird visited him one his dream and told him he would learn and use the chicken dance or die.
The dance, which is consists mostly of remaining in one area while performing intricate body movements and dance steps, is still practiced by the Blackfeet tribe today.
In 1990 Congress authorized and requested the president to issue a proclamation designating the month of November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month, because the month concluded the traditional harvest season and was generally a time of thanksgiving and celebration for the American Indians, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
Since then, it’s website says, presidents have annually proclaimed it to, “celebrate the contributions of the American Indians and urge the peoples of the United States to learn more about the American Indian cultures.”
“American Indians and Alaska Natives enrich every aspect of our country,” President Barack Obama said in his annual presidential proclamation of the month at the White House on Nov. 1. “As the first to live on this land, Native Americans and their traditions and values inspired -- and continue to inspire -- the ideals of self-governance and determination that are the framework of our Nation.
“This month, we recognize the contributions made by Native Americans since long before our founding,” he added, “and we resolve to continue the work of strengthening government-to-government ties with tribal nations and expanding possibility for all.”