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Native American Heritage Month events scheduled at Tinker

  • Published
  • By 72nd Public Affairs

Every November, the Department of Defense joins the nation in celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month, also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. This event is an opportunity to recognize the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, stories, and important contributions of Native American and Alaska Native peoples.

Several events are scheduled at Tinker Air Force Base to celebrate tribal sovereignty and identity.

An arts and crafts show will be held Nov. 1-2, 2023 at Building 3001 inside the Oklahoma Room from 10a.m. to 2p.m. The 552nd Air Control Wing will host an AWACS Static Display Nov. 3, 2023 located on the AWACS hangar.

On Nov. 16, 2023, a Heritage Lunch & Learn is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30p.m. at the Tinker Chapel Fellowship Hall (building 5701). Seminole Nation Chief Lewis Johnson will be speaking.

Prior to being elected Assistant Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in August of 2013, Johnson served two consecutive terms on the General Council as the Band Chief for the Tallahassee Band. Johnson has been appointed to several boards and committees over his years of service by four different Principal Chiefs. These appointments include serving on the Administration Appeals Board, Revision Committee, Codification Committee, Arts and Culture Committee and Negotiation Committee for SNDA. Johnson has previously held the roll of Commissioner of the Housing Authority of the Seminole Nation, Seminole Nation Development Authority Trustee, Tribal Liaison to the Congressional Code Talkers Medal the United States Mint, and was selected by the General Council to be a speaker on behalf of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma before the District Court of the United States in Washington, D.C.

A flag retreat ceremony will be held Nov. 23 at 5p.m. at the flagpole located outside the 72nd Air Base Wing Headquarters Building (building 1002).

There are over nine million American Indian and Alaska Natives living in the United States today. With over 574 federally recognized tribes, there are hundreds of different cultures that are as unique as the people they represent.

For 2023, The Society of American Indian Government Employees has chosen the theme: “Tribal Nations Soaring to New Heights.” This year’s theme is a tribute to the resilience and strength of Native Americans and Alaska Natives who have overcome numerous challenges throughout history.

One such example is the Mohawk ironworkers who have been shaping the skylines of North American cities for more than 100 years. These men built prominent landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the World Trade Center. The Mohawk tradition of ironworking began in the mid-1880s when they were hired as unskilled laborers to build a bridge over the St. Lawrence River onto Mohawk land. Quickly, they earned a reputation for being hard workers on high steel, earning the nickname “skywalkers.”

In the 1960s, when New York City announced plans for the World Trade Center, which would be the tallest in the world, hundreds of Mohawk men played a vital role in its construction. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the towers, descendants of the original ironworkers returned to aid in rescue and cleanup at ground zero. Fittingly, Mohawk ironworkers then helped build the new Freedom Tower, now known as One World Trade Center.

American Indians and Alaska Natives have built a legacy of professionalism and selfless service that inspires future generations. Let us take this opportunity to honor their contributions to our society. Learn more at