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Afghanistan Task Force Celebrates American Indian Heritage

By Staff Sgt. Keith Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2003 – A culturally diverse group of Combined Joint Task Force 180 members celebrated the kickoff of Native American Heritage Month with a Nov. 5 ceremony here.

Task force commander Army Brig. Gen. Lloyd Austin III said the event was "about diversity." He urged those in attendance to "take a moment and stop and think what we're about."

He reminded those assembled that America stands for diversity. "If you treasure diversity, then people will bring great ideas from their culture," Austin said. "Diversity makes us a better team."

Guest speaker at the event, Lt. Col. Valerie Jircitano-Torres, 10th Signal Battalion commander and Mohawk Indian, enlightened attendees about Congressional Resolution 76.

The 1987 resolution "was set forth to acknowledge the contributions of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution and to reaffirm the continuing government to government relationship between Indian tribes and the United States established in the Constitution," Jircitano-Torres said.

She told attendees about the significant history of the Iroquois Confederacy's Grand Council and their Great Law of Peace, both of which provided inspiration for America's founding fathers.

"It is absolutely astounding the number of similarities between documents It is evident the fundamental structure of the United States government clearly was modeled on the Iroquois Grand Council," she said.

Jircitano-Torres said when the white man reached American soil, "they found free nations guided by democratic principles, all under the authority of the natural law, the ultimate spiritual law of the universe. This was the land of the free and the home of the brave."

(Staff Sgt. Keith Thompson is assigned to the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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