by Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing Public Affairs
12/16/2015 - EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark. -- Cherokee
Nation citizens demonstrated traditional aspects of their culture and
spoke about their heritage for Native American Indian Heritage Month
with a presentation at the 188th Wing Nov. 18.
The program began with a blessing from Crosslin Smith, a spiritual
resource person, or medicine man. Smith represented the Cherokee Nation
during the Korean War as a member of the 45th Thunderbird Division and
is a member of the Keetoowah Society.
Tommy Wildcat, supervisor of the Ancient Village living history exhibit
and accomplished Cherokee recording artist, performed on the Cherokee
flute following Smith's blessing. Wildcat is renowned for his work on
soundtracks that range from Discovery Channel's "How the West was Lost"
to Turner Network Television's movie "Tecumseh, the Last Warrior."
After the performance, Joe Crittenden, deputy principal chief of the
Cherokee Nation, spoke to the Airmen in attendance about the beautiful
country of Cherokee Nation and their traditions. Crittenden served two
terms as a Cherokee Nation council member and was elected as deputy
principal chief in 2011.
"We want to keep our heritage, our culture and our language alive for as
long as possible so we don't lose our being," Crittenden said.
The program ended with a song in the Cherokee language sung by Ja-Li-Si
Pittman, the 2015-2016 Miss Cherokee. Pittman is currently the
vice-president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and her
platform has tackled youth needing strong mentors in school.
Col. Brian Burger, commander of the 188th Operations Group, recognized
the participants with a 188th coin and a certificate of appreciation and
thanked them for sharing their culture with the unit.
"The 188th made us feel like family," Crittenden stated. "I appreciate them and everything they do for the country."
"The Cherokee Nation has strong ties in the Fort Smith, Arkansas and
Oklahoma areas, where many of our members of the 188th reside," said
Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, commander of the 188th Wing. "Understanding and
appreciating the local culture through programs like this helps to
develop longstanding partnerships between the Cherokee Nation and the
188th Wing. We're very thankful for their presence in the community and
their commitment to showcasing their culture and heritage to us."