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Native American Heritage Month celebrated at VA

National Native American Heritage Month was celebrated at the Hefner VA Medical Center Social Room on Nov. 17. The theme was Service, Honor, Respect, Strengthening Our Cultures and Communities.
John Mitchell, EEO manager, was master of ceremonies, Chaplain Fleming Otey, served as principal chief, along with David Waller, local chief; Mayor Susan Kluttz and Dr. Joe Oxendine were recognized as honorary chiefs among Yadkin River Valley Indians Centered at Salisbury (INA-YECS). The yurt/wigwam at the intersection of Rowan, Stanly and Cabarrus counties is their new home-away-from-home.
The traditional Indian ceremonial blanket was held high with the passing on of the tribal Talking Stick — with a “9/11” eagle feather attached. Other honored chiefs and elders included Paul Russo, new director of VAMC, and Chaplain Ryan Wagers, VAMC chief of chaplain services. Ann Shaver presented yellow roses in honor of the mayor and in memory of Native veterans including former Chief George Waller.
Rosemary “Apache Rose” Sanchez held the blanket and led a Medicine Wheel group dance. The Rev. Elke MacCartney held and rang the bell for the moment of silence. She also provided ceremonial smudging. Other participants included Barbara Waller, the Rev. Sam Warlick, Rebecca Moser and the Rev. Ellen Whiteside. Two new Indian Drumming Circle at Gold Hill (#88) and the Flute Circle at Lexington (#99).
The Daryl Raper extended family (grandmother and grandchildren) from Spencer, came with their father’s Sacred Elders Blanket made up of the Cherokee Syllabary. Keith Smith and Mary Summers also participated.
A group photo was made before the final dance and potluck snack. The keynote speaker was Dr. Joe Oxendine, the interim president of Catawba College. He quoted from his book and spoke extensively about the nuances of culture and his tribal group of the Lumbee Indians.
More than 100 people visited the big 2011 exhibits this year celebrating Indian/Native Americans and veterans.
For more information and photos, please visit the web-site: http://www.otey-ministry.info/
Otey is a veteran retiree and volunteer.

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