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Veterans honored at United Tribes
23 November 2009

BISMARCK (UTN) - Keynote speaker David M. Gipp brought praise from Washington, DC for veterans attending the United Tribes Veterans honoring November 11 at United Tribes Technical College. Only a few days earlier the college president had attended a meeting hosted by President Barack Obama for the nation’s tribal leaders.

      “All of the tribal leaders who spoke at the White House/Tribal Nations Conference had high praise for tribal veterans,” said Gipp. “It was pointed out by many speakers that tribal veterans have brought honor and distinction in their faithful service in the armed forces in defense of the nation. I was very pleased to hear those kinds of words.”

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: U. S. Army veteran Brett Smith led the United Tribes Honor Guard by carrying the staff for the Posting of Colors at the start of a Veterans program November 11 at the college. Smith, from Standing Rock, is a United Tribes Criminal Justice student who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Other Veterans in the Honor Guard, from left, Terry Moericke, Louis ‘Buster’ Laundreaux, and Darrin Davis. Hidden from view Michael Alex. United Tribes News photo Dennis J. Neumann

      The conference was attended by leaders or representatives of nearly all of the nation’s 564 federally recognized tribes. It was considered a step toward fulfilling Obama's promise to uphold nation-to-nation relations with the tribes and open a ‘new chapter of change.’

      Gipp pointed out that the President recognized in his Native American Heritage Proclamation (see page 9) the value and importance of American Indian Veterans and their contributions to every conflict and war the country has faced.

      “American Indian men and women have always made a great contribution to serve and protect the freedoms we have today,” said Gipp. “We must keep that in mind – that we have freedom today. Had it not been for all of the veterans – whether they lived or died – we would not be here to share this moment today.”

      Gipp reported that President Obama’s concluding remarks during the White House conference were shortened by the urgent need for him to attend to the Fort Hood military base shootings, which had occurred earlier in the day. Those of us attending the conference had not heard the news until it came from him, said Gipp.

The Veterans Honoring included a walk around campus and the tying of yellow ribbons onto the tree in the center of the campus Medicine Wheel. United Tribes News photo Dennis J. Neumann

      Gipp pointed out that American Indians have the highest per capita participation rate in the armed service of any ethnic group in the country.

      “We need to keep in mind that many have sacrificed in the past,” said Gipp. “We need to remember them and commemorate them for their acts and deeds and their commitment to assure that there was safety and peace in this land.”

      He concluded by wishing good health to all veterans and their families and thanking them for “carrying forward the history, heritage and values of what Tribal America is all about.”

      The United Tribes Veterans Program was organized by the college’s Culture Committee with the support of the Student Senate and the Strengthening Lifestyles Program. It was titled “Honoring the Warriors of the Past to the Present.” Counselor Russell Gillette provided the opening prayer. Athletic Director Daryl Bearstail recognized three student athletes who are Veterans: Nicole Wells, Khato Weist, and Justin Fox. Other speakers included students Nathan Dunn and Jenna Skunk Cap, and Veterans Preston Wise Spirit, Glen Fox, Terry Moericke and Robert Fox. The drum group Wise Spirit Singers rendered flag and honor songs. The master of ceremonies was Dr. Phil Baird, Vice President of Academic, Career and Technical Education.