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Naval Station honors Native Americans, vets

From left, Naval Station Everett Commanding Officer Capt. Thomas Mascolo shares stories Nov. 12 about his time in the service with Tulalip Tribal Board Chair Mel Sheldon Jr., who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Naval Station Everett Commanding Officer Capt. Thomas Mascolo shares stories Nov. 12 about his time in the service with Tulalip Tribal Board Chair Mel Sheldon Jr., who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

EVERETT — Naval Station Everett hosted a Native American heritage ceremony Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. to honor both Native Americans and veterans.

Guest speakers Annette and Ron Charlie performed tribal songs, then showed examples of Native American arts and crafts, including woven clothes and baskets, and carved musical instruments and traditional games. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Psyletta Gilroy then delivered a speech on Native American contributions to the American military.

Although Native Americans were made eligible for the draft in 1924, Gilroy pointed out that Native Americans had lent their skills to the American military since before the Spanish-American War, and have continued to serve in the military in larger proportions to their total population than any other ethnic group of American citizens.

State Sen. Claudia Kaufman of the 48th Legislative District, a Nez Perce Indian, cited Native Americans’ commitment to supporting veterans as a core value of their culture, and pledged not to take their sacrifices for granted.

Tulalip Tribal Board Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. attended the event and was moved by both the lineup of guests and the gesture on the part of Naval Station Everett.

“It’s an honor for Naval Station Everett to step up and do this,” said Sheldon, who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. “We don’t do enough sharing of our culture. A lot of people forget that wherever these military bases are stateside, this was all Native American country. We deeply appreciate that Naval Station Everett is showing this respect toward our culture and as a veteran myself, it’s good to see my brothers in arms.”

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