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Indians will play host to patriotic program

Dancing, prayers and songs will be part of the Native American Heritage Program on Friday at the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office, 9500 Bay Pines Blvd.

The regional office shares grounds with the VA National Cemetery and the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines.

A prayer ceremony will precede the festivities at 8:30 a.m.

The official program will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the posting of the colors by the Seminole Tribe color guard and the Pinellas County Veterans Liaison Council honor guard.

Adrienne Spiritsong will perform America the Beautiful and Henry Battiest Jr., of the Seminole Tribe, will sing God Bless the USA.

There will be speeches by David C. Miller, president of the Veterans Liaison Council, Dan Weise, an assistant director of the VA Regional Office, and Thomas Weaver, director of the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines.

Music will be performed by Family Drum and Kenneth Redhawk, and there will be some demonstration dancing. Roger Block, of the West Coast Gulf Archaeology Society, will display American Indian artifacts. Grandmother Carole will tell stories to children.

American Indians served in America's wars from the Civil War through the Gulf War, according to Veterans Affairs. Nearly 190,000 are alive today. Of those, nearly 58,000 live in Florida, including about 16,000 in the Tampa Bay area.

Friday's festivities are open to all American Indians, their families, other veterans and the public. For information, call Joanne Hagley, 319-7576.