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Omaha Tribe shares rich culture with Team Offutt

Dustin Lovejoy, Culture Club Sponsor for the Omaha Nation Public Schools, and his son perform traditional National American Indian dances during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. This year’s theme, selected by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, was “Serving our Nations,” a tribute to the 567 federally recognized tribes across the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Dustin Lovejoy, Culture Club Sponsor for the Omaha Nation Public Schools, and his son perform traditional National American Indian dances during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. This year’s theme, selected by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, was “Serving our Nations,” a tribute to the 567 federally recognized tribes across the U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Members of the Omaha Tribe sing and play drum during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. The tribe performed more than 30 minutes of song and dance for members of Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Members of the Omaha Tribe sing and play drum during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. The tribe performed more than 30 minutes of song and dance for members of Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Rufus White, Omaha Tribe elder, opens the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event with a prayer Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. His prayer was followed by the Omaha tribal flag song and a greeting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Rufus White, Omaha Tribe elder, opens the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event with a prayer Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. His prayer was followed by the Omaha tribal flag song and a greeting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Kane Sheridan, 6, performs traditional National American Indian dances during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. As the headlining act, the Omaha Tribe brought 34 members, ranging from elementary to high school students, teachers, parents and elders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

Kane Sheridan, 6, performs traditional National American Indian dances during the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month event Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. As the headlining act, the Omaha Tribe brought 34 members, ranging from elementary to high school students, teachers, parents and elders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

A National American Indian art piece is displayed at the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. The piece was created by local artist Ron Garvais. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

A National American Indian art piece is displayed at the Offutt Diversity Team’s National American Indian Heritage Month Nov. 15 at the Patriot Club. The piece was created by local artist Ron Garvais. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Plueger)

55th Wing Public Affairs --

The Offutt Diversity Team hosted a National American Indian Heritage Month lunch event at the Patriot Club Nov. 15, featuring more than two dozen Omaha Tribe dancers along with a local art and artifact display.

This year’s theme, selected by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, was “Serving our Nations,” a tribute to the 567 federally recognized tribes across the U.S.

Prior to and after the performance portion of the event, guests were able to browse art from local National American Indian artist, Ron Garvais, along with pieces created by the children of the base’s Youth Center and Child Development Centers. The Durham Museum Education Programs Coordinator Kim Doubek also supplied artifacts, including a buffalo bladder and sweet grass braid for display.

As the headlining act, the Omaha Tribe brought 34 members, ranging from elementary to high school students, teachers, parents and elders.

“Opening our event are members of the Omaha tribe whose reservation spans Northeastern Nebraska and Iowa,” said Staff Sgt. Melanie Curtis, Team Offutt Diversity Team co-lead and event emcee. “Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska, is named after them. Never known to take up arms against the U.S., members of the tribe assisted the U.S. during the American Civil War.”

Rufus White, tribal elder, began with a prayer which was followed by the Omaha tribal flag song and a greeting.

“Thank you for inviting us here to participate in your honoring of the Native American heritage month,” said Dustin Lovejoy, Omaha Public Nations school counselor aid. “This our very first time performing at such a venue.”

The performers were comprised of two dance troupes – one made up of elementary school students and the other a mixture of middle school and high school students. They children were also were responsible for singing and playing the drum.

The culmination of the event was an intertribal dance where attendees were invited to join the dancers.

“The circle is a healing circle,” Lovejoy said. “A lot of people look to the circle to heal. Some people can’t sing, some people can’t dance. That is why we do what we do from our hearts for those people, our family and our community. Today we are here representing those who are near and dear to us.”

Included in those people are the more than 400 past and present tribal members who have served in the Armed Forces throughout the years.

“Today I take great pride in our culture, our dances and our songs,” Lovejoy said. “Through our dances, our songs and our culture our spirituality is alive and well.”