December 7, 2018

‘Red Feather Woman’ helps Fort Irwin celebrate Native American History through storytelling, music and dance

Story by Casey Slusser
Red Feather Woman sings with the audience.

Fort Irwin, Calif. — Soldiers and family members gathered at Sandy Basin community center, to pay tribute to Native American soldiers during the Native American Heritage Month celebration on Nov. 14. Audience members were regaled with stories, performances and dances, performed by Native American storyteller, Rose Elk, aka “Red Feather Woman.“

“We are the keepers of the earth!” Elk exclaimed “It is our responsibility to preserve Mother Earth.”

She embraced a color wheel, explaining the individual properties each culture brings to light and balance. The color wheel is also known as a medicine wheel and represents, fire, wind, water and earth. Elk said each color­— red, black, white and yellow— all represent different elements and cultures. When the medicine wheel is in alignment, she explained we have clarity, beauty and harmony; when off balance, we experience devastation and destruction.

Everyone joined Elk singing, “We are the keepers of the Earth, heritage given to us at birth, creator took us by the hand and said this is our land,” a song she said she wrote in college, following a dream that empowered her to make a difference.

Elk said it has become her mission in life to preserve her native people’s heritage and ancient culture, taking personal responsibility to introduce her culture, and to teach the next generation about the Native American way of life.

Sounds of laughter filled the room as she led the senior leaders, Soldiers and family members into a circle dance. The Native American circle dance, or Mother Earth Dance, relates directly to her message. “It was important for the audience to experience a part of her culture” she said. Elk believes that by engaging the audience, her message is imprinted into them. She also provided cultural artifacts for display and education.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to come and share my heritage with the soldiers,” she said.

Col. Larry France presents Red Feather Woman with a token of appreciation from MEDDAC and the Fort Irwin community during Native American Heritage Month

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