Keynote speaker Gary “Litefoot” Davis, addresses attendees during the first NAVAIR-wide VTC November 13 to celebrate National American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. Hosted by FRCSW, Davis spoke of the importance of cultural preservation, family, education and unity. (U.S. Navy photo)

FRCSW Hosts NAVAIR VTC to Recognize Native Americans

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) hosted the first NAVAIR-wide VTC November 13 to celebrate National American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month.

Keynote speaker Gary Davis, known professionally as “Litefoot,” spoke of the importance of cultural preservation, family, education and unity.

“Everyone is indigenous to some place. But when you lose the culture, when you lose the language, you lose the people,” he said. “When people no longer communicate, no longer tell the stories, that’s when things start to break down.”

Davis, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is an accomplished musician, actor, and business developer. His film appearances include “The Indian in The Cupboard” and television episodes of the series “House of Cards.”

He and his wife Carmen also travel throughout the country to offer encourage and hope to American Indian communities.

Davis spoke of the Navajo Code Talkers, who, during World War II, used their language to create a code that proved invaluable to the Marine Corps during combat operations against the Japanese.

“In total, there were about 32 indigenous tribes that served as code talkers during World War I and II. Our people have always served at a higher percentage per capita than any other group,” he said. “My father was a veteran, my wife’s father was a veteran and all of my uncles were veterans. We acknowledge them and pay homage to them during events.”

There are approximately 22,000 military and civilian Native American employees currently serving in the DOD.

The governor of New York officially recognized Native Americans in May 1916 when American Indian Day was established. In 1990, it garnished national recognition when President George H. W. Bush approved a joint Congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month.

 

 

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