ST. GEORGE — Although every day is a good day to learn about the heritage of our native people, it is especially true during the month of November.
In August 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November as Native American Heritage month. Communities, educational institutions and service organizations alike are encouraged to learn more about the contributions of the native people to our society and to share that knowledge with others. This year’s theme, “Building Partnerships through Understanding.”
For many years, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has dedicated itself and its members to honor and serve the original inhabitants of this land. The primary mission of the American Indians Committee of the society is to preserve the history and culture of our Native Americans, and to support their educational needs and cultural pursuits. This is done, in part, by providing financial and material assistance to approved Native American schools, Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma and Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. Both schools were founded in 1880. The Indian Youth of America Summer Camp is also supported by the group.
All chapters are encouraged to promote the mission of the American Indians Committee at the local level, and especially during Native American Heritage Month. Since Washington County is rich in Native American history, the Color Country Chapter has always welcomed the opportunity to provide meaningful ways of service that recognizes our local Native Americans and their culture.
For example, chapter members volunteer their time to place American flags on the graves of Native American veterans buried at Shivwits Cemetery, a Veterans Day tradition this chapter has performed for several years now. Similar to last year, the chapter requested and obtained signed proclamations from the city mayors of Ivins, Santa Clara and Toquerville, all declaring to observe Native American Heritage month in their respective cities. The chapter is currently hosting a donation drive among its members to collect and provide unwrapped gifts to make Christmas extra special for our local Shivwits youngsters and teens.
To continue with the Native American theme, Color Country Chapter recently invited Martin Tyner to be their monthly guest speaker. Tyner, founder of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, is widely known for his exceptional wildlife educational programs that he provides throughout the west. Accompanying him was his devoted companion, Scout, a wild golden eagle. According to Native American beliefs, both the golden eagle and the bald eagle are considered sacred birds; and are the appointed messengers of prayers between the world of Earth and the world of spirit where the creator resides along with their beloved grandfathers and grandmothers.
“A golden eagle has 7000 feathers which means it is carrying 7000 prayers to the creator,” Tyner said, as he affectionately stroked Scout’s feathers from head to tail while speaking to chapter members and guests.
Tyner is known throughout the region, and especially by the Paiute people, for providing expert care and rehabilitation services to severely injured eagles, releasing them back to the skies once fully healed to fulfill their sacred mission and this maybe the reason why a local Paiute elder honored Tyner and the special work he does to save eagles by giving him a special Paiute name that means “Healer of Angels.” Many agree that the name fits him very well, and actually became the title of his book. An easy reading book for all ages, it contains a collection of true stories meant to inspire, lesson teach and touch the reader’s heart.
At the close of his presentation, Tyner was presented with DAR’s National Conservation Award. This award, which includes a medal, is given to a distinguished volunteer who the chapter believes has provided outstanding service in the area of conservation within their community. Tyner was chosen for his dedicated work in preserving and protecting wildlife, and in particular, large birds of prey, a commitment that has spanned over 50 years of his lifetime. His enthusiasm and willingness to openly share his knowledge and experiences with others, and especially to school children of all ages, played an important role in the nomination process leading to his recognition.
The chapter also recognized Susan Tyner, his devoted and foundation partner and co-author of the “Healer of Angels” book.
Charitable donations and book sales are relied upon to help fund the outstanding work of their wildlife foundation. For more information about Tyner and Southwest Wildlife Foundation, visit his website.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is women’s service organization founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington D.C. Their mission fields are historic preservation, patriotism and children’s education. For more information, including member eligibility, please visit the website or the Utah chapter here.