Ceremony Will Honor Hopi Indian Slain in Iraq
Event a Special Tribute by Seminole Tribe

by MARY WOZNIAK, mwozniak@news-press.com
Published by www.news-press.com on November 6, 2003

The parents of Spc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian and the first servicewoman killed in the Iraq war, will speak at today’s Veterans Day ceremony conducted by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

IF YOU GO • What: Veterans Day celebration of the Seminole Tribe of Florida • When: 10 a.m. today • Where: Big Cypress Entertainment Complex, Big Cypress Seminole Reservation; north of I-75 near the Broward/Collier county line. Exit at mile marker 49 and drive north about 15-20 minutes on Snake Road. Travel time from Naples is about one hour. • Special guest: Parents and children of Spc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Indian and the first servicewoman killed in the Iraq war. • Cost: Free • Information: Call (954) 966-6300

Terry and Percy Piestewa will be special guests at the 10 a.m. ceremony honoring their daughter, who was killed in March when the 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed near Nasiriyah. Jessica Lynch was captured by Iraqis in the same ambush. Lynch was later rescued.

When she returned to the United States, Lynch paid tribute to Piestewa, 23, who she called “her best friend.”

Piestewa’s son Brandon, 5, and daughter Carla, 3, will accompany their grandparents at the annual Veterans Day Celebration at the Big Cypress Entertainment Complex on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, near the Broward County/Collier County line.

Piestewa’s parents are visiting a number of Native American tribes by invitation, said Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminole Tribe.

“First of all, we are proud of our Native Americans that go overseas and fight for our country,” said Seminole Tribe Chairman Mitchell Cypress. “This was the Native Americans’ country to begin with.”

This event is partly to educate non-Native Americans about the part that Native Americans played in serving in various U.S. conflicts from World War I to the Iraqi war, Cypress said.

Sometimes people ask him, “‘Why do you join the military forces when you never signed a peace treaty?’” Cypress said. The concept of freedom must continue, so tribal members volunteer, he said.

This is the Seminole Tribe’s special tribute to Piestewa’s family, to honor their loss, Cypress said.

“We all know what it is to lose something,” added Stephen Bowers, a Vietnam War veteran and a Seminole. “It is always part of our duties, whether male or female, to serve your nation.”

Today’s ceremony will also include essay readings from Seminole students of the Ahfachkee School. All Seminole veterans and guest veterans will be recognized at the ceremony.


Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html