DVIDS – News – Army Soldier Continues Navajo Lineage of Service

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea — He comes from a long line of hunters and warriors.

From the Southwestern plains to the jungles of Vietnam, Sgt. 1st Class Claudia Favre can trace her Navajo lineage through generations of fighters around the world.

Favre serves as an equal opportunity adviser with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Eighth Army, and is among the less than one percent of service members who are Native American. She hopes to use her position to educate service members about Native American history.

Between 1100 and 1500 AD is when a distinct Navajo culture begins to emerge in the southwestern region of the United States. Their history includes a tumultuous relationship with the Spanish in the 1500s and then in 1863 being driven from their land in northwestern New Mexico and marched more than 300 miles. The “long walk” to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Navajos.

“In fact, they took us from our homes and lands and walked (…) away from our house, they put us in camps, they did not allow us to speak our language, the children were separated, people died of hunger, people died because it is a long drive,” Favre said.

Favre said that putting his people through this experience and then persevering is inspiring.

Four years after the Long March, a treaty with the US designated a Navajo Reservation, allowing the Navajo to return where they rebuilt their economy and developed their culture. Despite not being granted citizenship until 1924, the Navajo people served in both World War I and World War II.

Favre’s father was drafted into the Vietnam War and his grandfather volunteered to serve during World War II. Favre said she remembers his grandfather telling her stories of being on the battlefield as a coder. He would use the Navajo language as a code to communicate with headquarters. At the other end of the line would be another Navajo speaker who he would translate.

The patriarchs of his family not only served their country, but also served in their homes. Favre said hunting was an integral part of her culture and that she began “pulling back bows” when she was little. Today, Favre said that she still has very good aim.

keep the culture
In addition to educating others about Native American history, Favre focuses on maintaining Navajo traditions within his own family. Growing up, Favre learned to make traditional foods, branded cattle, and even rode horses in rodeos.

“What I bring is my passion for animals, like horseback riding,” Favre said. “But I also want to start incorporating some of my native traditions into my kids, like the dances.”

As a child, Favre spent time participating in powwows where she was a traditional jingle dancer, a Native American woman who performs a dance of healing and pride that helps her people move forward with strength and hope. She said that she would put on her jingle dress (prayer dress) and perform the healing dance. Powwows were held as forms of celebration and competition. Each had their own accompanying song and dance. She said there was the Warrior Dance (involves mock combat); Grass Dance, (competitive dance style of Northern Native Americans), Fancy Shawl dancers (a dance that imitates butterflies in flight), and Northern and Southern traditional dancers.

In addition, Favre said that the Navajo people are a spiritual group and that rituals play an important role in their culture. Kinaldaa, a four-day coming-of-age ceremony in which a medicine man sings for the well-being of the young woman, during which she is not supposed to sleep.

“In the meantime, he’s learning to cook Navajo pie, which is baked on the ground,” Favre said.

Favre said military life makes teaching his own children their traditions more difficult because he can’t visit the reservation, however, he said keeping the culture alive in his family is important and he looks forward to teaching them.

fight against stereotypes
Favre said that while many traditions remain in place, he sees a modernization on the reservation through fashion and hairstyles. However, she believes that there are still stereotypes about Native Americans. Favre said two extremes prevail: Native Americans are like the characters depicted in the John Wayne movies or the Disney movie Pocahontas, or at the other extreme, Native Americans are drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There is more to the Native American people than those two, than what is shown in the media,” Favre said. “There are so many Native Americans doing great things for America. We have astronauts, we have engineers, we have Native Americans building Land Rovers for space, we have an elected congresswoman, and you have Native Americans in the military doing great things, deploying and risking their lives for their people. and his country.”

Favre said that while much attention is paid to World War II Code Talkers, he said it is time to recognize those who have made more recent contributions to society.

“There are a lot of Navajos now, in 2022, who are in the military that nobody talks about,” Favre said. “The deployments we’ve been on, to be a drill sergeant, to be (equal opportunity adviser), there are other things I wish (they were highlighted today) compared to the Army in 1945 and 1946.”

Farve said it’s time to “put the new generation on the map.”

Favre is part of that “new generation”: those who, like generations before them, chose to serve their families, their tribes and their nation.

Date to be held: 22.11.2022
Publication date: 22.11.2022 00:19
Story Identification: 433749
Location: CR

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