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2009 Native American Indian Month Poster
Native American Indian Month Poster
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National American Indian Heritage Month poster released

Posted 11/5/2009   Updated 11/5/2009 Email story   Print story


11/5/2009 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- In observance of National American Indian Heritage Month, celebrated each year from November 1-30, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) proudly announces the availability of original artwork available for download from our public Website,

National American Indian Heritage Month honors the many contributions and accomplishments of American Indians and Alaska Natives. During November, we remember the legacy of the first Americans and celebrate their vibrant culture and heritage. Since the Revolutionary War, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have played a vital role in our country's freedom and security. They proudly serve in all departments of the United States Government today.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990
"National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.

The Department of Defense theme for this year's American Indian Heritage Month observance is "Understanding Native American Heritage Now and Then."

DEOMI illustrator Mr. Peter Hemmer describes this year's National American Indian Heritage
Month Observance poster:

"In researching this year's theme of "Understanding Native American Heritage Now and Then,"
DEOMI's Research Directorate found that most acknowledgments of Native American history and heritage revolve around one theme - "Looking Back," said Mr. Hemmer.

"This year, we decided to take a different perspective and focus on what's preserving the heritage and history now. There are plenty of classes at universities, Websites, and organizations dedicated to Native American heritage, but we said 'Let's shine light on who Native Americans are today; how they live their lives today; how their heritage shapes them in this globalized, industrial world we live in; and focus on what is still important today and what will always be important including their value system," said Stephanie Turner, a student internist at DEOMI.

"I found a blogger site written by a Native American who asked his Native American friends to name five famous Native Americans of today, but all they came up with were famous Native Americans from the past," said Mr. Hemmer. "None of them knew that there were Native Americans in modern times that were doing pretty amazing things. From this I started doing research and I came across a Native American Poet named N. Scott Momaday, who won a Pulitzer Prize as well as many other accolades. I started reading two poems of his and his book "The Man Made of Words." I was struck by one of the poems called "The Earth," where he says "For we are held by more than the force of gravity to the earth. It is the entity from which we are sprung, and that into which we are dissolved in time. The blood of the whole human race is invested in it. We are moored there, rooted as surely, as deeply as are the ancient redwoods and bristle cones." This led me to research the bristlecone which grows on a pine tree in the
west, some of which are thought to be more than 4,000 years old, so bristlecones are one element included on the poster."

"Another of his poems that caught my attention was called "The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee." A
couple lines from that poem read "I am a feather on the bright sky," and "I am an eagle playing with the wind," as well as "I am the shadow that follows a child." Just the way Momaday paints images with words inspired me for some of the other elements you see in the poster."

While researching a tie-in to the modern aspect of the Native American Heritage Month theme for this year, Mr. Hemmer found a unique way to link an important aspect of American life today--the space program.

"I wanted to find out if there are any Native American Astronauts," he said.

"I decided to do this since the DEOMI campus is located close to the space industry here in
Florida, and to me the space program represents technology and modernism."

Mr. Hemmer found out that CDR John Bennett Herrington, U.S. Navy Retired was a NASA
Astronaut in 2002 and flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavor as part of STS-113, the sixteenth mission to visit the International Space Station from Nov. 23--Dec. 7, 2002.

"Some of the personal items CDR Herrington took with him on that mission included eagle feathers, arrow heads, and the flag of the Chickasaw Nation so a couple of those items are included on the poster. Also, I started thinking about what I could add to the still life that would represent space, stars, and the cosmos, so I found some antique marbles that could look like planets. Some of the artifacts included a hand axe tool, a pot, and turquoise representing water. I tried to represent the various elements of earth, sky, water, and also included a cow bone to represent animals--it could be any animal. I thought it was interesting to add these because Native Americans not only tie deeply to the earth, but plants and animals as well. The time piece was an easy way to represent time--the "Now and Then" part of the theme. The photograph of the Plains Indians represents the past."

All DEOMI observance month poster files are in the public domain unless otherwise indicated. We request you credit the illustrator or simply, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. For more information about CDR Herrington, please visit:

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