ALEXANDRIA, VA – Native American songs of blessings rang through the air on Thursday afternoon at the Braddock Road Metro Center courtyard in front of the USDA’s Team Nutrition Office. What seemed like an impromptu afternoon surprise was actually a planned recording of Choctaw Native American Joe Gaines of Alexandria, who is a member of the Choctaw Nation located in southeast Oklahoma. He was invited to be a part of the opening ceremony planned for the USDA employees during the month of November in recognition of National Native American Heritage Month.
“We pray for humanity, people for social consciousness, and we overcome our own internal strife first and then within our own families, communities, cities, states, the world, and the whole universe,” Gaines explained. “We can all be related in a certain kind of way, and be able to see it and feel it. We are all related somehow in a humanitarian way that what affects you affects me.”
“Moving forward in this world, and participating in reconciliation on both sides, maybe we can change our own self in the middle of our own self, with song, prayer, thoughts, consciousness and education,” said Gaines.
Gaine’s passionate songs of prayer offered a refreshing glimpse into the Choctaw Nation heritage and the optimism that they hold dear to their beliefs. The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian nation in the United States, with over 200,000 tribal members and more than 11,000 employees. As the first tribe over the Trail of Tears, historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma.
In November 1990, Congress issued a joint resolution authorizing the President to proclaim annually the month of November as the “National Native American Heritage Month”.