Fort Bliss celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month

Members of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo invite attendees of the Fort Bliss National American Indian Heritage Month observance to learn a dance at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center here Nov. 15. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

Members of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo invite attendees of the Fort Bliss National American Indian Heritage Month observance to learn a dance at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center here Nov. 15. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.

By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 22, 2017)

Soldiers, leaders and other members of the Fort Bliss community came together at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center here Nov. 15 to recognize National American Indian Heritage Month.

During the ceremony, attendees learned some of the rich history around Native Americans and their roles in U.S. military history.

In addition, members of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo performed historical dances.

Members of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo perform a dance during the Fort Bliss National American Indian Heritage Month observance at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center here Nov. 15.

Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, organized the event, and the 1st Armored Division Equal Opportunity Office oversaw it.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Sutherland, equal opportunity adviser, 1st AD, emphasized the importance of the event.

“This is important so we don’t forget where we came from as far as heritage,” Sutherland said. “We learn about different heritages and cultures in history, but hearing firsthand, I feel helps us to understand it a little more.”

Retired 1st Sgt. Edward R. Santa Cruz, left, receives a certificate of appreciation from Maj. Patrick Sullivan, center, and 1st Sgt. Jose Jimenez, right, both assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, after the Fort Bliss National American Indian Heritage Month observance at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center here Nov. 15.

Holding these observances is not only important to teach about diversity, but also to teach the younger generations about different heritages.

“We want to make sure our younger generations understand the culture of the American Indian, especially out here in the Southwest region that has so much rich history,” Sutherland said.

Retired 1st Sgt. Edward R. Santa Cruz, guest speaker, highlighted Native Americans’ roles in past wars. In addition to educating the audience with historical facts surrounding Native Americans, Santa Cruz also discussed equal opportunity issues throughout history and where we stand today.

“To all our people, regardless of their race, creed or color, it’s important to know that we exist as well,” Santa Cruz said. “A lot of people take it for granted and assume that most of us are Hispanic or Mexican American, instead of Apache or another Native American heritage, so it is good for us to be able to celebrate a time for each nationality.”