ARLINGTON - Navajo code talker Roy Hawthorne kicks off the 15th Annual Honors Scholarship Benefit Pow Wow on Saturday, Feb. 20. The event is sponsored by hosted by the Native American Student Association and The University of Texas at Arlington Honors College.
The free event is scheduled from 2 to 10 p.m. in the E.H. Hereford University Center's Bluebonnet Ballroom, 300 W. First St. Hawthorne's opening address will be in the adjacent Rosebud Theater at 2 p.m. Parking and admission is free.
During World War II, Hawthorne was among a select group of Native American Marines who used the Navajo language to cloak military messages sent across the Pacific. The unbreakable code proved to be one of the most significant military codes in modern history. The Navajo code talkers are credited with saving countless lives and helping end World War II in the Pacific.
Hawthorne starred in "The Code Talker Project: Keeping the Code Alive" and was featured when the film was shown on KERA and the History Channel this past year. He also has appeared on "The Larry King Show."
Hawthorne is now a minister who dedicates his spare time to sharing the experiences of the code talkers.
New to this year's Pow Wow is the "Fallen Soldier Ceremony." The ceremony is rooted in the pre-1800's Native American villages, when warrior societies protected villages, master of ceremonies Dennis Wahkinney said. As time evolved, Native American warriors left their homes to fight wars to defend the nation.
The Naval History and Heritage Command counts 200,000 Native American military veterans and reports that, historically, Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared with other ethnic groups.
"The Fallen Soldier ceremony, within the ceremonial gourd dance, honors those who have been killed in battle," Wahkinney said. "The focus will be on those lost most recently, those soldiers who were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
One of the most popular events each year is the Tiny Tots contest, during which young children from toddlers to 6-year-olds dance in full regalia. The contest is held during the gourd dancing event, from 2 to 5 p.m. A dinner break is scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m., with a grand entry at 6 p.m.
Select vendors will include woodcarvers and jewelry. Indian fry bread and tacos will be available.
The Pow Wow is expected to attract more than 500 guests. Proceeds benefit members of the Native American Students Association Scholarship Fund. Applicants must demonstrate commitment to and strong interest in the Native American community, but American Indian descent is not necessary to be considered for the scholarship.
Contact the association at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.