native american heritage month

VA to Present Annual Celebration of Native American Heritage Month

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: Pictured from top, (l-R)  Yolanda Smith and Sheldon Sun Down; Middle photo (l-r) Jerry Bowman, Darvin Adams, Debbra Ransom, Veronica Johnson, Paul Kinsey and Kortnie Williams; Above with members of the Redrum Motocycle Club, Davin Smith Paul Kinsey and Sheldon Sun Down.

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH: Pictured from top, (l-R)  Yolanda Smith and Sheldon Sun Down; Middle photo (l-r) Jerry Bowman, Darvin Adams, Debbra Ransom, Veronica Johnson, Paul Kinsey and Kortnie Williams; Above with members of the Redrum Motocycle Club, Davin Smith Paul Kinsey and Sheldon Sun Down.

For the last six years Native American Pride has always emerged as the central theme in the VA’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month hosted annually by Paul Kinsey, a Native American veteran who has served as the agency’s Native American Program Manager. 

The November 13th event,  which was no exception, coveredthe spectrum from patriotism and the need for an alternative holidays to Columbus Day, to healing and indigenous culture.  

Featured wasan invaluable presentation by Yolanda Smith, a member of the Turtle Clan, Seneca Nation who shared her profound knowledge of the properties and uses of over a dozen plants and herbs used by Native Americans – and available to everyone - for natural healing.  In addition she urged the eating of organic and fresh foods when possible as opposed to “dead foods” found in cans and boxes; the avoidance of white sugar which she called “a killer” that will “ruin your body”’; and advised cleaning out the systemat least two to three times a year (especially at the start of each season) for optimum health. It was amazing to hear this knowledgeable young woman say that she was “still learning.”     

Seneca Nation performer Sheldon Sun Downdelivered a culturally rich singing and drummingperformance. He also acknowledged Yolanda’s presentation and noted that herbal medicine works “but the key to our medicine is to have faith inyourself.”

Paul introduced members of the Redrum Nomads Native American Motorcycle Club who read their mission statement which included as part of their goal, to promote a positive outlook on motorcycle clubs and to spread positivity.

The VA made presentations to Yolanda Smith andSheldon Sundown. In his closing remarks Kinsey encouragedthose in the audience to continue to support the yearly Native American Heritage Month celebration at the VA and to be mindful and respectful of one another andof all cultures. “Do something nice for someone,” he urged, “because the world is falling apart.”

                                                         Event Host Paul Kinsey

                                                         Event Host Paul Kinsey

Paul has also invited members of the Brooklyn-basedRedrum Native American Motorcycle Cub to attend.  “The day’s event should be entertaining as well as educational,” said Paul. “We also want to highlight at this year’s observance, the movement across the country to push for Indigenous People Day as an alternatives to Columbus Day,” continued Kinsey. 

 

Since 1990 the state of South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day in lieu of Columbus Day to honor its residents of indigenous heritage. In Hawaii, Discoverers’ Day is celebrated rather than Columbus Day. The city of Berkeley, Calif, also doesn’t celebrate Columbus Day, instead recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day since 1992. And last year the Seattle City Council replacedColumbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day in the city.

The American Indian Movement (AIM) has called on the federal government to stop observances of Columbus Day calling Columbus “the beginning of the American holocaust…and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands.”

The call for justice for the Native American people was front and center at the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. last month.

 Everything from Miss Indian World being crowned to a proposed Native American Olympics in the near future, are significant, and an indication that Native American pride and awareness is growing said Paul. He gave a special mention to his “extended family,” and “ace in the hole,”  the Native American Community Services at 1005 Grant Street in Buffalo   which just recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Paul Kinsey, a Native American Veteran who hosts the annual Native American Month Observance, has shown unwavering dedication in serving the needs of the Indigenous veteran community and beyond.

     For more information he can be reached at paul.kinsey@va.gov