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Navajo Nation Council helps make Memorial Day event a success

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Large crowd attended Gourd Dance

WASHINGTON - The 21st Navajo Nation Council, the Office of the Speaker and the Black Creek Gourd Society from Fort Defiance, Ariz., co-sponsored a Memorial Day Gourd Dance event at the National Museum of the American Indian May 24.

Shiprock Council Delegate Leonard Anthony served as the master of ceremonies and the Intertribal Veterans Association was the host drum group for the event.

The Gourd Dance was held in honor of all servicemen and women that paid the ultimate price in ensuring the freedom of Americans.

On the same day, a group of Navajo veterans conducted an early morning prayer at 6 a.m. at the World War II Memorial, where they presented an American Indian-style wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Hundreds of spectators attended the Gourd dancing event. Several former Navajo tribal leaders were in attendance. Among them were former Navajo President Milton Bluehouse Sr. and former Navajo Vice Chairman Frank Chee Willeto, who both served in the U.S. military.

Willeto and David Patterson were also honored for being Navajo code talkers.

Navajo Nation Council delegates Orlanda Smith-Hodge, Larry Anderson, Leonard Anthony, Raymond Maxx, Curran Hannon, Larry Noble and Edmund Yazzie also attended the event and were recognized for their leadership as tribal leaders.

''I am glad that I attended this event,'' Willeto said. ''I can't believe how many people are here; we have people from all ethnic backgrounds in attendance.''

The Gourd dancing event attracted hundreds of people to the center rotunda of the museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institute collection. The beating of drums and gourds reverberated around the museum as spectators lined up along the staircases that led up to the multi-levels of the museum to catch a glimpse of the Gourd dancers.

Museum staff explained that they were thankful to the organizers of the event because it helped them promote educational programs for visitors to the museum.

Several presenters thanked Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and the 21st Navajo Nation Council for co-sponsoring the event.