The North Dakota Army National Guard, together with representatives of North Dakota’s Tribal Nations today dedicated the NDNG’s newest helicopter, the UH-72A Lakota. More than 500 people showed up to witness a historic ceremony that included a tribal blessing of the helicopter that joins the NDNG aviation inventory. The dedication ceremony took place at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ahead of the week-long powwow scheduled for this week.
The master of ceremonies was Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. Gov. Jack Dalrymple led the remarks by special guests.
“The UH-72A Lakota helicopter will be a valuable asset for North Dakota and an important tool in our Guard’s inventory for supporting our communities and serving our citizens,” said Dalrymple. “This state-of-the-art aircraft will strengthen our capabilities when responding to emergencies and natural disasters across the state.”
The U.S. Army’s proud tradition of providing its helicopters Native American names continues with the UH-72A Lakota. The Lakota is the Army’s newest light utility helicopter and will replace the UH-1H Iroquois and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and will be added to the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter currently flown. The aircraft ideally suited for logistics and missions in support of homeland security, emergency response and medical evacuations.
“We are pleased to partner today with all of the great nations of our state to celebrate the newest aircraft and resource available to the North Dakota Guard as we support our communities across the state in emergency operations,” Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general for the N.D.
National Guard told the audience. “We are pleased that the members of so many different nations have assembled to celebrate this great bird as we welcome the UH-72A Lakota helicopter to our fleet.”
Sen. John Hoeven, Congressman Rick Berg, and Dr. David Gipp, President of United Tribes Technical College, and representatives of North Dakota Indian nations Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Three Affiliated Tribes and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa also rendered remarks during the two-hour ceremony. The ceremony also included veteran honor guards, and performances by the Youngbear/White Lodge Drum Group of Manderee, N.D. and Native American dance groups.
As part of the dedication ceremony, two Lakota helicopters were blessed by Native American spiritual leader and elder, George Ironshield of Standing Rock, and officially named “Eagle” and “Turtle” respectively. The Eagle symbolizes spirituality and hope while the Turtle is honored as a protector and healer. These names reflect the life-saving and emergency response missions of the Lakota helicopter and symbolize the respect and partnership between the Native American Warriors honored by the aircraft and the soldiers of the North Dakota National Guard that will operate the aircraft.
The North Dakota Army National Guard is expected to have four Lakota helicopters in their inventory by the end of 2013. The aircraft will be stationed at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck.
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