Chief David Stands With Song Hughes embodied this year's theme of "Guiding Our Destiny with Heritage and Traditions" during the annual National American Indian Heritage Month program aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Philadelphia.
After beginning his keynote address in his native Cherokee language, David, the principal chief of the Eagle Medicine Band of Cherokee Indians (an indigenous community based in Pennsylvania with membership across the country), dispelled common myths and detailed truths about Native American, or Indigenous, cultures. [capt
] "This country has come a long way in its social interactions and acceptance, but we have a long way to go ... There has been much progress over the past 20 years with a conscious effort to try to bring a sense of dignity to indigenous people both off and on the reservations," he said. "I know for a fact that many of you have indigenous blood," David continued, adding, "A person's geography or zip code doesn't determine who that person is. We should be proud of who we are and where we come from. We have a legacy." Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Weapon Systems Support (WSS), Weapons Support Department Director, Marine Corps Col. Scott Hallstrom, recognized the rich culture and courage of Native Americans in his opening remarks. "From the birth of the United States, American Indians, or Native Americans, have contributed to the fabric of our society with distinction. During this month, it is imperative to pay tribute to the dedicated service and unique contributions of Native Americans, to our country and military, past and present," he emphasized. Col. Hallstrom also noted how Native Americans have proudly served in the U.S. military for the past 200 years, focusing on the story of how the famous Navajo Code Talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 through 1945, and how they served in every Marine Division, in Marine Radar Battalions, and in Marine Parachute units transmitting messages in their native language, a code that the Japanese never broke. Co-sponsored by the NAVSUP WSS Command Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) and DLA Troop Support EEO Office, the event also featured Command presentations to Chief David by DLA Troop Support Commander Brig. Gen. Steven Shapiro, and Hallstrom on behalf of NAVSUP WSS Commander Rear Adm. John King. Another highlight of the program was the American Indian Harvest food samplings, which included bison stew, corn bread and succotash. By Margaret Kenyon-Ely; NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Corporate Communications