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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 25, 2003 - Issue 79


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Making History

by Jan-Mikael Patterson The Navajo Times
As the only Navajo female attending West Point Academy, cadet Sierra Blue continues to deal with loneliness and the pressures of academics.

"It took me a couple of years to get adjusted," Blue said. "It gets lonely from time to time."

Blue is originally from Kirtland, N.M. She is the daughter of Kendall Blue and the late Charlene Cambridge-Blue. She is Tl'aaschii'i born for Bilagaana.

She is majoring in comparative politics with a minor in computer science and is a year and a half away from graduating with a degree. She is the only Native American female in her class that will graduate on May 29, 2004.

Blue reported to basic training a month after her 2000 high school graduation from Kirtland Central.

After graduating West Point she plans to stay in the Army to see how much more she can achieve.

"It's nice to be a part of West Point's history," she said.

Upon graduation, cadets are awarded bachelor's degrees and commissions in the U.S. Army. They serve on active duty for a minimum of five years. West Point graduates have served the country in a variety of areas over the last 200 years as military leaders, engineers, explorers on land and in space, and as leaders in business and government.

The 4,000 members of the Corps of Cadets represent every state in the United States and several foreign countries. About 1,200 new cadets enter the academy on Reception Day each year (about July 1st) and undergo a rigorous boot camp.

The population of women in the academy is about 15 percent and the admission of Native Americans is listed high but is not accurate, according to Blue.

"They have it listed pretty high but I think it's diluted," she said. "About four students in my class have a certificate of Indian blood so I would have to say that there is less than one percent of Native Americans here."

The academy is offering her and many others who attend "great opportunities."

"There are so many great opportunities that opened up for me," she said as she described her classes as demanding.

Blue said she met other Navajos in the program. She served on the Native American Heritage Forum as president with a couple of them - Jonathan Eden, half Navajo and half Paiute from Las Vegas, Nev. and Ansley Curly, also half Navajo from the Gallup/Window Rock area.

West Point is located about 50 miles north of New York City.

Blue said she missed the Southwest weather and was restless with the snow and dampness at the camp. She came home for the holidays but reported back to camp this past Sunday.

Loneliness is something that she is continuing to deal with as she is making friends who are non-Native.

"I've made some friends here," she said. "Some of them admitted their ignorance on Native Americans but they are interested in learning.

"It's kind of nice. I don't have to hide because everyone knows," she added.

Other cadets ask her questions about her tribal background, lifestyle on the reservation and experiences.

She said that teaching non-Natives helps people change their perspectives and opens them up to a whole other world. Blue plans to continue doing so as long as she is going to school there.

For the 2001 Native American Heritage Month, she and the governing board for the forum invited Navajo Code Talker Association President Samuel Billison to West Point as a guest speaker.

"He actually came on Oct. 29 and he kicked off Native American Heritage month for us," she said.

"He came in and we had him speak twice - once in the afternoon and one in the evening," Blue said. "It was open for anybody who was interested."

"I was very proud to have him here," she said. "I sat right off of the stage next to him. He was in uniform. It was amazing to just sit there and listen to him.

"He was funny and intelligent when he spoke," she added. "He was accepted well."

Blue said that before Billison arrived they had a showing of the movie "Windtalkers." Watching the movie gave some of the cadets an idea of what to expect.

The academy's equal opportunity office help make the presentation possible by covering Billison's expenses.

United States Military Academy
"To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of selfless service to the nation."

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