Air Force

November 30, 2012

Airman embraces Native American culture, traditions

Tags:
Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23d Wing Public Affairs


MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) — As a young girl who grew up on the reservation in Fruitland, N.M., one Airman remembers happy ceremonies, traditions and family get-togethers. She spoke a different language, had a large extended family and lived in an area that was more than 90 percent Native American.

Tech. Sgt. April Cooper, 23d Wing command section superintendent, is proud to be 100 percent Navajo, and still embraces the culture and traditions she grew up with.

“I value and cherish every bit of heritage that is in and a part of me,” she said. “I may have not been close to family throughout my years of service being away from home, but when I do go home for visits, it’s always a great time to have a ceremony to have blessings given and also give thanks to Mother Earth and Father Sky.”

Although military life has made it more difficult for her to visit home, she goes back every couple of years to spend time on the reservation. They hold ceremonies and celebrations; she helps out around the reservation and she spends time with her family.

“Being in the Air Force for the past 15 years has made it very difficult to be part of the traditions,” said Cooper. “When I do go home for visits, my family and I always do a blessing ceremony for myself and my family’s safety and well being. This involves an all-night ceremony in either our traditional Hogan or teepee, depending on the weather.”

One of Cooper’s close friends is Norlyn McNulty, 23rd Operational Support Squadron unit program coordinator, who has helped Cooper put on her traditional Navajo dress.

“She is very proud of her background, but not so much that she openly boasts about it,” said McNulty. “If asked, she will openly share everything she knows.

“I learned to admire her,” she added. “She is not the type of person to let everyday stressors get to her, and she doesn’t complain about anything. She is one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met. If you meet her boys, you will see that she is also one of the most loving people.”

For Cooper, it’s important her children be exposed to the traditions and culture so they can carry them on.

“As a Native American and a Navajo woman, my heritage is a part of me and I’m very proud of it,” said Cooper. “My children are half Navajo, so I try to tell them about their heritage and where they came from to keep the traditions going. It is important to stay involved and keep the traditions in my family so that my kids can carry them on in their life.”

One way Cooper gets her children involved is by letting them live on the reservation with family during their summers.

“I know she is very close to her sons, but she lets them go back to live with her family so they can be a part of the traditions,” said Cooper’s friend. “As a mother myself, I found it admirable that she can let them go by themselves to, not only be enriched by the culture, but also be with family as much as possible.”

A big part of the Navajo culture is the language. They are one of the only Native American tribes that still use their native language for everyday communication.

“The Navajo language played a highly significant role in helping the entire nation during World War II when the Navajo language was used as a code to confuse the enemy,” said Cooper. “Navajos were inducted and trained in the U.S. Marine Corps to become ‘code talkers’ on the front line. These men, known today as famed Navajo Code Talkers, proved to be the only code that could not be broken during World War II.”

The Navajo code talkers are among many other Native Americans who have distinguished themselves throughout history. November is Native American Heritage Month, which honors and celebrates the many contributions Native Americans have made and continue to make to the U.S.
McNulty said it is important to recognize and celebrate these contributions. When asked why she thinks it is important to learn about and celebrate Native Americans and other cultures, she answered with a question of her own.

“I think a better question is why isn’t it important?” said McNulty. “Why isn’t it important to learn as much as you can about a different culture, especially when they were the original inhabitants of this country? I think that demands we learn more about one another.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Davis-Monthan Airman helps Tucsonan

One weather forecaster’s self-aid buddy care training quickly resurfaced when she witnessed a car accident outside the gates of Davis-Monthan. Senior Airman Amanda Boone, 355th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, ...
 
 

U.S. Air Force to kick off COOL program

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — The Community College of the Air Force officially launched the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program March 16. Air Force COOL is a pathway for enlisted Airmen to earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active-duty work and to prepare them as they transition to...
 
 

Military leads the way in equal opportunity

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — What does it take to change a nation? What force has the power to move millions of people in their fundamental views of the world? For Christopher Daniels, a U.S. Air Force colonel, that answer is simple: leadership. In his words, “The true agent of change is true leadership.”...
 

 

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

(U.S. Air Force photo) On April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack...
 
 

AFAF gives all Airmen a chance to pay it forward

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s Sept. 12, 2005. Senior Airman Dennis Hutchison is recovering from a hard day’s work on the flightline of Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, when he receives a call that tragedy had struck. “I got a notification from my family that my father had passed away,” Hutchison said. “I immediately contacted...
 
 

Rocketry Club ready to take flight this weekend

TUCSON, Arizona – On March 28 and 29, hundreds of rockets will soar into the Tucson sky at Desert Heat 2015. Rocket enthusiasts from around the Southwest will gather for this annual two-day rocketry event, where there’s no cost to watch, and kids always fly free. The rockets that will be launched vary in size...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin