Native American soars high

By Capt. Morshe Araujo
332dnd AEW PAO

Twelve years ago, Staff Sgt. Tedd Beyale, 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group, knew he wanted to see the world outside of his native people's reservation and he knew that the Air Force was the gateway for that dream.

A Navajo Native American, Beyale grew up on a ranch in the Navajo Nation. He is the oldest of seven siblings.

"I knew that I wanted to see the world," he said. "Joining the Air Force was a better option than becoming a ranch hand."

He said that he noticed he and his family were treated differently outside of the reservation.

"We went to a private school off the reservation. Because of our heritage, there was a lot of tension," he said. "As more Navajos started to enroll in the school, the acceptance began to get better."

Beyale said that the elders encouraged the younger generation to go out and seek a higher education. If the young people gained a broader knowledge than what was available on the reservation, they might return some of that knowledge to the reservation.

"I try and make a monthly trip back to the reservation," said Beyale, who also uses the visits as an opportunity to educate his children about their Native American heritage.

"I want them to know where they come from, who they are and not to forget. They're beginning to understand the different lifestyles and ways of our culture. When they outgrow something, their first thought is to save the item until our next visit to the reservation."

According to Beyale, the reservation has small villages sprinkled throughout its vast boundaries.

"The nearest neighbor could be five miles away," he said. "There are places where housing developments are being built in the center of the community in order to bring the elderly members of my tribe closer so that we can take care of them."

Within the communities, various programs are implemented to support the youth, like summer hire programs. There are also chapter meetings twice a month to allow members to get together to discuss and plan the future of their village. The chapter even helps provide feed for those who have cattle or sheep.

The one thing Beyale misses about living on the reservation is the traditional dances.

"So much is put into a dance, like the movements and even the style of outfits. The dances tell a story," he said. Opportunities for members of his tribe to come together and dance are numerous, from powwows to ceremonial dances that can last as long as seven days.

"A particular ceremony used for traditional healing or a blessing way," said Beyale. "It starts off as a couple of days of prayers, singing and dancing. Toward the end of the ceremony there are three days of celebration."

It is through these ceremonies and events that the Navajo are able to keep in touch, not just with other members of their tribe, but also with their heritage.

The Navajo reservation is one of the largest Native American reservations in the country. It spreads across four states: Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The population, which was cut to only 8,000 after the Long Walk in the 1860's, has grown to more than 210,000 strong. About 4 percent serve in the United States military.

During World War II, more than 300 Navajo radiomen, known as the Navajo Code Talkers, provided the Marines a code that helped them win the battle of Iwa Jima. For Beyale, the story of the Navajo Code Talkers was passed down through his family by his great-uncle who served as one of the famed communicators.

"He was part of a special unit of Native Americans that worked hard to narrow down our language to specific words," he said. "I'm glad they were finally honored for their service. Their contribution to the war is evident. It might have been minor but it made a big difference in what we do today, and it saved lives."

As the lead workgroup manager for the 332nd EMSG, Beyale keeps a pulse on the group's network systems. Along with staying focused on the job, Beyale also has a comical side that helps keep the morale up in his office.

"Staff Sgt. Beyale always has a way of making us laugh, even on the days we didn't want to do anything but sit in our little corners," said Staff Sgt Heather Hutton, 332nd EMSG Information Manager. "He is always quick with a joke."

Hutton said that the one thing she admires most about Beyale is his sense of duty and perseverance.

"Tedd will always work at a task or a problem until he has it completely figured out. No matter how frustrated he gets, he will never give up. That's something that I wish I had."

And it was through determination and great resolution that the Navajo Nation and other Native American tribes are still an integral part of our culture and our history. Beyale said he is proud of his heritage and the service that he's doing for his country during peacetime and wartime.

"I'm proud to be a Native American first, that's in my blood," he said. "And then after that, I'm proud to be an American."

Also a college graduate, Beyale is working on his masters in Business Management with an emphasis in Information Technology.

 

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Staff Sgt. Tedd Beyale of the 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group is a Navajo serving on LSA Anaconda.

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Ferguson Canyon is in the western foothills of Navajo Mountain, with cottonwood trees.

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Rainbow Natural Bridge, also known as Rainbow Bridge, is a natural rock span of salmon-red Navajo sandstone arching over Bridge Canyon. It is about 12 miles northwest of Navajo Mountain (Naatsis’n) in broken and deep canyon country of southern Utah.