97 LRS secretary celebrates Native American history and heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kayla Christenson
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Lela Julian, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron secretary and a member of the Sac and Fox tribe, was born and raised in Oklahoma. As such, she tries to spread awareness of Native American Heritage to the Altus Air Force Base community. To Julian, the events she organizes teach Native American history, allowing Airmen and their families to learn how to conserve the planet’s resources.

The Sac and Fox Nation originated in Michigan until they were later displaced to a part of Kansas, which today belongs to Oklahoma. Julian said part of her motivation is to preserve traditions of the approximately 2,300 registered members of the Sac and Fox Nation.

“It kind of breaks my heart because I know that eventually it's going to get lower because there's only 2.9 million registered Native Americans together as a whole,” said Julian. “So, for me, keeping some of their traditions in your thinking is so important.”

Some of the traditions Julian wants to keep alive are centered around conservation and being in touch with nature.

“One thing we're passionate about is spirituality. We have the utmost respect for people, the Earth and its animals,” said Julian. “Because if you don’t, you destroy the Earth, you destroy us, you destroy water, you destroy our resources.”

Another practice Julian keeps is wearing a medicine bag. Medicine bags or bundles are containers for items believed to protect or give spiritual powers to its owner. She said it is very important to prepare these items correctly or someone can actually do the opposite and welcome negative energy.

“Some of the things that my medicine bag does is help protect me, help me be more empathic, like being able to feel and see surroundings. I have sage mainly to protect me from any kind of negativity,” said Julian.

Julian and her family also host “pow wows” to celebrate their traditions and bring everyone together. A pow wow includes dancing, singing, and socializing.

“My dress, in particular, is called a jingle dress,” said Julian. “That dress is actually a healing dress whenever you dance with it. It's got the cones on it and those represent raindrops that come from the sky. So, whenever you're dancing, you're healing and you're sending almost like a prayer up to the sky.”

Julian encourages everyone to educate themselves about Native American Heritage, keep the planet beautiful and give back to nature.