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AMC partners with Standing Rock Community School to host local tribal engagement

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Matthew Arachikavitz
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Air Mobility Command partnered with Standing Rock Community School to host a tribal engagement in Fort Yates, North Dakota, April 18, 2024.

Leaders from across AMC, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Recruiting Service and the North Dakota National Guard spent the day with students from Standing Rock Community School and the local tribal community to showcase the Air Force’s commitment to decreasing barriers for members of indigenous nations to serve and foster relationships with the Lakota and Dakota nations of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander, led the delegation of military professionals assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Minot Air Force Base, the North Dakota Air National Guard and Air Force Recruiting Service. Airmen assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and Offutt AFB, Nebraska, also attended the engagement to highlight science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities for students.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from,” Minihan said. “What matters is that when we come together, we are one.”

According to Minihan, building a force that is resilient and full of multi-capable, diverse Airmen dedicated to living like warriors provides AMC a warfighting advantage over adversaries that is vital to the future Joint Force.

The Department of the Air Force’s dedication to provide an equitable, accessible and inclusive environment for all service members and employees is exemplified through various initiatives like the Indigenous Nations Equality Team. INET’s mission is to advocate for American Indian and Alaska Natives through policy changes, recruitment, retention and community outreach.

“It doesn't matter if you're a traditional indigenous person or not,” said Tech. Sgt. Darrell Charlee, Air Force Inspection Agency client systems non-commissioned officer in charge. “It doesn't matter if you grew up on the reservation or in the city. Our indigenous ancestors have fought and died for your existence, for my existence, and I want to honor them.”

During the event, the Air Force Heartland of America Band performed, keynote speakers from the Air Force and the local Lakota tribe delivered remarks and students from the Standing Rock Community School met with Airmen from various units across the AF to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities.

Students and tribal community members also had the opportunity to tour two UH-1N Huey helicopters and witness a KC-135 Stratotanker and one of the 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H Stratofortress flyover during the engagement. Members of local Lakota drum groups performed the Lakota grand entry, flag and victory songs.

The evening ended with a traditional Lakota meal shared between service members and the local tribal community.

“I’m very thankful that I get to retire from the Air Force and know that I left it a better force,” said Master Sgt. Frances Dupris, 319th Combat Training Squadron Advanced Training Course director.