Tribal Legacy: Heritage, Traditions, Family

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brieana E. Bolfing
  • 35tjh Fighter Wing Public Affairs

With so many diverse cultures and ideas claiming the U.S. as home, it is sometimes easy to forget some groups who have called it home over the years.  Since around 25,000 years ago, the Native American communities within the United States have passed down rich cultures, knowledge, traditions, and ways of life to the next generation, remaining resilient and proud in the face of adversity. 

They have been essential to the fabric of the U.S. throughout its history, serving in the U.S. military in every major conflict for the past 200 years at a higher rate than any other demographic, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Following this longstanding tradition, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lauren Tsosie, 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron inventory non-commissioned officer in charge, has also answered her nation's call.

  "My grandfather and mom were in the military, too. My grandfather served in the army during the Korean War. I admire my grandparents on both my parents' side. They are who I have looked up to the most.” 
recalled Tsosie
Born and partly raised within the Navajo, or Dinè, community, Tsosie continues to learn and be inspired by her tribe's heritage and traditions.

"I always saw them as hard-working. They carried on the traditions and knew the Navajo language so well,” Tsosie added. “Growing up on and off the reservation made me so thankful to visit and learn as much as possible from them, especially the work ethic they instilled in me."

Whether mentoring Airmen on how to be the best they can be or educating those around her on Native American culture, Tsosie understands the importance of education and understanding when it comes to growing.

"It makes me feel good to teach about my culture’s traditions and ceremonies," Tsosie said. "Some of which they may have never heard about unless I took the time to share them.”

One of the ceremonies that Tsosie likes to share is Tádídíín, which is when the pollen of the corn is dusted off the tassels to be used as a blessing and offered in prayer. Tsosie has used ceremonies such as the Tádídíín and her family's valued culture to help pull her out of trying times.

"Family was everything," expressed Tsosie. "My cousins were my brothers and sisters; my grandparents were my second parents. We always had each other's backs. If you need help, one of us will quickly come to your aid.

“There have been plenty of times when I was alone and going through something, my mom or sister would drop what they were doing and come to me, which is a belief that I would do for anyone else."

That strong sense of family and the importance of healing are among the Navajo traditions she brings to the military.

"Growing up half on the reservation and half in the city, I've learned two points of view," Tsosie recalled. "I experienced not only my tribe's traditions but the melting pot that is the United States.

“I appreciated that knowledge because it allowed me to understand other traditions before I joined the Air Force since the military is composed of every type of race, belief, culture, and religion.”

Within the military, we develop new relationships with people from different cultures, strengthening ties and creating a new sense of pride in our heritage.

  "I'm very proud of where I come from. Celebrating Native American Heritage means to me that we are letting everyone know we are still here. It also reminds me of all the hardships we go through in life and how we are resilient and powerful." 
expressed Tsosie