In celebration of National American Indian Heritage Month, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center hosted Tsimshian artist Edward E. Bryant at Heaton Auditorium, Nov. 29. Bryant, also known by Hagwil-Gáax, meaning “slow raven,” carries on the traditions of his ancestors through song, dance, storytelling and crafts. Members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community had the opportunity to sample the Tsimshian culture through Bryant’s performance.
Bryant was born in Lax Kw’alaams, a native village on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. He is part of the Gitando Clan, bearing the raven crest. Bryant moved to Europe nearly 20 years ago and currently resides in Austria. He is the only Tsimshian on this side of the world.
“I have nobody to dance with here. There are no Northwest Coast people here. There is only one,” Bryant said. He explained that he was grateful for the chance to share his songs and dance with Americans here in Europe. In fact, this event was the first time he had ever set foot on a military base in his life.
His performance won’t soon be forgotten. Audience members had the opportunity to hear Bryant speak in Sm’álgyax, a dialect of the Tsimshian language, meaning “real tongue,” play a handmade drum, perform a mask dance and more.
After Bryant’s performance, Equal Opportunity Adviser to Regional Health Command-Europe Sgt. First Class Jason World Turner spoke to the audience. Growing up as both Lakota and Dakota Sioux, World Turner felt ashamed of his heritage for a long time. He explained that as he grew older, he came to realize that he was wrong to feel that way. He now embraces his background and speaks proudly of it with hopes that others will be proud to share theirs as well.
“I see that [people] are split on how we view other people of different races and ethnicities, but those like myself are optimistic and try to see the good in all.”
His determination to spread awareness and positivity is fitting of his original name — “He Who Turns the World, So That All People May Live” — before it was shortened to World Turner.
The observance concluded with LRMC Commander Col. Timothy Hudson presenting both Bryant and World Turner with certificates of appreciation for their efforts. A Soldier from the audience gave Bryant one of the patches on her uniform, as a token of gratitude and a keepsake from USAG RP and LRMC.