Lejeune hosts Gathering of Many Nations celebration

21 Nov 2003 | Cpl. Kristin S. Gambrell

During World War II, the Marine Corps developed an indecipherable code, based on the language of Navajo Americans, which thwarted Japanese code breakers.  Navajo code talkers served throughout the island hopping campaign, supporting the assaults on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and Saipan.  Now, just as then, American Indians continue to serve their country and Corps.

More than 150 Camp Lejeune service members met at the Gathering of Many Nations celebration Nov. 17 at Marston Pavilion in observance of National Native American/Alaskan Heritage month. 

The purpose of the event was to revisit and share their American Indian culture and heritage.

The ceremony commenced when retired Gunnery Sgt. John Crazy-Bear spiritually blessed the event. Crazy-Bear served in World War II, Vietnam and Korea while on active duty.

For the event, Gunnery Sgt. Loy K. Apriesnig, a court reporter for the Staff Judge Advocate Office here, shed her chevrons for traditional garb, of a jingle dress adorned with hundreds of medal cones. 

She performed a traditional Native American dance, associated with pride and dignity rousing the crowd's applause.

"The event was a beginning," said Apriesnig.  "I hope to someday see a full-fledged day-long powwow." 

Along with the dance demonstrations, several information booths were available, displaying artifacts and artwork.

"The demonstrations and artifacts on display were a very small glimpse of our culture and our way of life," said Apriesnig, a full-blooded Native American Indian of Oklahoma's Kiowa and Comanche Tribes. 

It is the hope of the equal opportunity advisors here, to recognize and work to understand and appreciate the inherent strength of our national diversity, said Staff Sgt. Tanya M. Queiro, equal opportunity advisor, Marine Corps Base.  By honoring the achievements of American Indians and Alaskan Natives, we celebrate the heritage and history of the United States, our Navy, and our Marine Corps.

The article below was written by Apriesnig's mother to show her pride in what her daughter and service members do.

- The late Mary Anne Anquoe
(Mother of GySgt L. Apriesnig)


In observance of Armistice Day across the nation, I would like to recognize how my tribe and other Plains Indians celebrate this honorable day.

Patriotism is one of our deepest cultural activities to all our servicemen and women and veterans among our traditional tribesmen across the nation, not only in this century but centuries ago.

Since World War II, my tribe of the Kiowa Nation formed a War Mother chapter.  We have ceremonial dances for our fallen warriors with songs composed primarily for them, with their heroic deeds introduced in the song.  One of our ceremonials consists of hundreds of veterans who dance only on Veterans Day, where all their souvenirs are displayed and families honor both the souvenirs and the serviceman or veteran with one of the highest honors of our customs.  The women have Victory and Scalp dances where they dance with emotion and pride.  We also sing veteran songs at any given dance (powwow), which occurs every weekend.

Our U. S. flag is ALWAYS displayed at these functions, and a tribal flag song is always sung.  This is a fixed routine with all tribes.

When one of our soldiers comes home on leave, we honor him with a dance, or prayer service, or dinner, or all three.  We don't wait until Veterans Day to do this.  When a war is over, we celebrate with Victory dances wherever we may be.

My daughter and son-in-law are in the U. S. Marine Corps and are on standby with operation Desert Shield.  I am very proud to be an American and extremely proud of our servicemen and women and veterans.  These brave warriors, I commend.