UCTP Representative in Germany

UCTP Taino News - Claudia Fox Tree, UCTP Massachusetts Liaison, was recently invited to participate in the Native American Indian Heritage Month observances held by the United States Army in Germany. Claudia's mother is German and father is Arawak, so this presented a unique opportunity to share her Native American culture in the country of her mother's birth.

Claudia spoke to more than 300 U.S. soldiers and 800 of their children over a four-day period at military bases in Kaiserslautern, Darmstadt, Hanau, and Landstuhl, Hanau is where Elvis Presley was stationed. Landstuhl is where the United States military hospital is located. She was there in the days immediately following Fallujah.

Claudia used drumming, song and dance to educate folks about the history and contributions of Native People in general, and Taino/Arawak specifically. She described the Taino/Arawak initial encounter with Columbus in 1492, as well as his second voyage in 1494 where he brought 17 ships, soldiers and horses for warfare, and chains to enslave. Claudia also explained words and inventions that were Arawak in origin, such as, hurricane, barbecue, cigar, hammock, and tobacco. All of her presentations included connections to present day Native culture, current conditions, community connections, and ways Native People honor and respect each other, animals, and the land.

In 1990, President George Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 as "National American Indian Heritage Month" to celebrate and recognize intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of Native Americans. The Equal Opportunity Leaders of the United States Military are charged with bringing cultural awareness programs to their assigned bases, as well as, educating military personnel about sexual harassment. About twelve percent of the army consists of women, and even a smaller percentage is made up of Native Americans. Virginia Ming, Equal Opportunity Advisor (coordinator of the EOLs) was given the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) website, where Claudia is a board member, and from there, contacted Claudia.

On some of the days, Claudia shared the stage with Ella Garlits (Navajo) and Lt. Bigman (Objibway). Ms. Garlits lives in Germany and her husband is in the military. She shared Navajo history, traditions, and artifacts. She also made Fry Bread. Ms. Bigman is stationed in Germany and she shared her Nation's Jingle Dress Dancing. The event was well-received by military personnel. Claudia frequently had a long line of soldiers, teachers, and children waiting to shake her hand and say "Thank you" at the end of the performance.
UCTPTN 12.07.2004

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