Native celebration

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Remarks affirm national commitment to Indian Nations

By Roger Snodgrass

The sound of drums and the jangle of bells and rattles could be heard at Fuller Lodge Monday. The smell of fry bread was in the air.

An event featuring official posters and Native American dancers helped Los Alamos National Laboratory kick-off its celebration of Indian Heritage Month at Fuller Lodge.

Two children’s dance groups performed — Ice Mountain Dance Group from Ohkay Owingeh and Walatowa, a youth dance group from Jemez Pueblo.

Four college students from New Mexico universities presented posters demonstrating areas of environmental investigation at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Los Alamos Site Office Manager Don Winchell joined with LANL Deputy Director Ike Richardson and Cedric Page, executive director of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, to establish a scholarship for Native American students. The scholarship will be in the Applied Technologies Program at the college.

In his remarks, Winchell linked the celebration to the White House Conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, during which President Obama said, “I’m absolutely committed to moving forward with you and forging a new and better future together.”

As he closed his remarks, Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum, directing cabinet secretaries to report back to him within 90 days on the way they are implementing an Executive Order to consult with American Indians on matters potentially impacting tribal interests.

“This is unprecedented,” Winchell said in the text of his prepared remarks. “This moves us from simple proclamations to action.”

Winchell said local officials support the President’s intentions.

“I feel good about putting our report together because we at Los Alamos — both the United States and the respective Pueblos — have been consistent and open about the way we’ve been conducting our government-to-government relations,” he said. “So the report will bode well for all of us.”

After the talks, the Northern New Mexico College American Indian Student Organization and Pojoaque Middle School History Class Parent Group held an Indian taco and bake sale as a scholarship fundraiser.

Another laboratory event will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 16 from at the Material Science Laboratory on the LANL campus, featuring a panel of American Indian health and medical professionals.

This year, the theme for American Indian Heritage Month is “Revitalizing Health, Energizing our Mission in an Era of Change.”