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Cherokee Nation honors 188th Wing with visit

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by Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing Public Affairs

12/16/2015 - EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark.  – Cherokee Nation citizens demonstrated traditional aspects of their culture and spoke about their heritage for Native American Indian Heritage Month with a presentation at the 188th Wing Nov. 18.

The program began with a blessing from Crosslin Smith, a spiritual resource person, or medicine man. Smith represented the Cherokee Nation during the Korean War as a member of the 45th Thunderbird Division and is a member of the Keetoowah Society.

Tommy Wildcat, supervisor of the Ancient Village living history exhibit and accomplished Cherokee recording artist, performed on the Cherokee flute following Smith’s blessing. Wildcat is renowned for his work on soundtracks that range from Discovery Channel’s “How the West was Lost” to Turner Network Television’s movie “Tecumseh, the Last Warrior.”

After the performance, Joe Crittenden, deputy principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, spoke to the Airmen in attendance about the beautiful country of Cherokee Nation and their traditions. Crittenden served two terms as a Cherokee Nation council member and was elected as deputy principal chief in 2011.

“We want to keep our heritage, our culture and our language alive for as long as possible so we don’t lose our being,” Crittenden said.

The program ended with a song in the Cherokee language sung by Ja-Li-Si Pittman, the 2015-2016 Miss Cherokee. Pittman is currently the vice-president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and her platform has tackled youth needing strong mentors in school.

Col. Brian Burger, commander of the 188th Operations Group, recognized the participants with a 188th coin and a certificate of appreciation and thanked them for sharing their culture with the unit.

“The 188th made us feel like family,” Crittenden stated. “I appreciate them and everything they do for the country.”

“The Cherokee Nation has strong ties in the Fort Smith, Arkansas and Oklahoma areas, where many of our members of the 188th reside,” said Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, commander of the 188th Wing. “Understanding and appreciating the local culture through programs like this helps to develop longstanding partnerships between the Cherokee Nation and the 188th Wing. We’re very thankful for their presence in the community and their commitment to showcasing their culture and heritage to us.”


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