Piscataway Nation performer Dom Watson performs the Grass Dance at the JBM-HH National Native American Indian observance held at the Community Center Nov. 13. Photo by Leah Rubalcaba

Piscataway Nation performers celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month

Eagle feathers and ornately beaded dresses were the order of the day as the Piscataway Indian Nation singers and dancers performed for attendees of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s National American Indian Heritage Month Observance held at the Community Center Nov. 13.

The observance began with welcome remarks by JBM-HH Headquarters Command Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Vance Brunner.

The Piscataway Nation performers included James Edwards, from the Seneca Indian Tribe; Dom Watson with the Lakota Indian Tribe, and twins Erica and Katy Isennock with the Rosebud Sioux Indian Tribe.

Edwards began by explaining the long standing traditions of the American Indian dances and songs to be performed, and he further explained the symbolism of the dresses worn.

He noted that all the dancers wore eagle feathers because of the importance of the eagle in Native-American culture, explaining that eagle feathers are a symbol of high honor and that their ancestors used eagles to carry messages to God.

Watson provided a narrative of the history of each dance to be performed and sang the song, accompanied by a drum beat, as each member of the troupe performed a traditional dance. He explained that some dances, such as the hunting dance, Healing Dance and Grass Dance were performed for a specific purpose, while dances such as the Fancy Dance were just for show.

He noted that Indian tribes still gather today at pow wows around the country to share their traditions of song and dance with each other and with the public.

Following the performance, Brunner was joined by Headquarters Command Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah Grow to present the dancers with a certificate of appreciation for their colorful, informative and entertaining contributions to the day’s event.

Observance attendees were then treated to a sampling of traditional Native-American food.

By Leah Rubalcaba

JBM-HH Community Relations Officer