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Native American arts and crafts fair to highlight heritage month

More than a dozen Native American artists will display their creations at a special Native American arts and crafts fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 15-16 in the Oklahoma Room in Bldg. 3001.

“Arts are a record of history as well as a means of expression,” said Katherine L. Jones, secretary for the Tinker Inter-Tribal Council. “In the Native American arts, every element of a piece of jewelry or a painting has a special meaning with colors, context and content coming together to create a rich, vibrant message that evokes a peace and calm, bringing the viewer into the tapestry of nature that is so fundamental to the world around us.  We identify with art because we can see ourselves in it.”

Jones went on to describe that many Native Americans draw strength from an association with nature as well as the family. Animals in Native American art can represent the endurance of nature as well as spirit creatures who share dignity, determination, patience, wisdom and other virtues important in today’s society. She added that these artists will offer a variety of jewelry, textiles and art pieces that can add something special to one’s home or office.

The Tinker Inter-Tribal Council is the on-base organization helping to fulfill the Department of Defense’s initiative to pay tribute to the Native American men and women who defend their nation every day, as well as those who have served in the past. Jones said the council hopes events such as the arts and crafts fair provides a platform for the Native people of the United States of America to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways of life.

“Native American Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to build bridges with the public about tribes and raise a general awareness about the unique elements that Native people add to the American tapestry,” Jones said. “The council meets monthly to improve communications between groups and is always looking for new opportunities for Native people to express community concerns and solutions for building bridges of understanding and friendship in our local area.”

November was first designated Native American Heritage Month in 1990, following the passage of a joint resolution by President George H.W. Bush. According to the DOD, as of 2016, there were more than 15,000 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the DOD with one in every 93 uniformed service members identifying as Native American or an Alaskan Native. More than 6,400 Native Americans or Alaskan Natives work in today’s DOD civilian workforce.