POLACCA, Ariz. — Hopi High School’s junior Reserve Officer Training Corps’ (ROTC) color guard has been chosen to post the colors at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian during its Native American Festival Nov. 17-18 in Washington D.C.
Sgt. Major Larry Nelson, an instructor at Hopi High School, will be leading five junior ROTC cadets on this mission. The cadets are Jeanine Gaseoma, Leyton Klee, Anita Antone, Mariah Namingha and Christina Shupla.
The Smithsonian is paying for the hotel, airfare and per diem for the entourage from Hopi High School.
Nelson and the cadets will post the colors at the beginning of the festival and will retrieve the colors at the end of the festival. They will participate throughout the festival as they may be paired up with presenters or assisting with arts and crafts. They will also tour the museum and have a chance to do some sightseeing in the nation’s capital.
Nelson said he is “beyond honored” that Hopi High’s junior ROTC cadets were the only color guard chosen out of all the junior ROTC color guards in the country.
“We are deeply honored that our cadets have this opportunity of a lifetime because this is in the nation’s capital and we will be representing Native Americans,” he said.
Nelson credits Bruce Talawyma, an assistant in the chairman’s office, with using his contacts so that the Hopi High cadets could have this experience.
“We’re thankful to represent Hopi High School in Washington D.C.,” Nelson said.
Battalion Commander Jeanine Gaseoma, who carries the rifle in the color guard, said she feels confident and honored about going to Washington D.C. to represent Hopi High junior ROTC.
“I’m excited to see what they have to offer,” she said.
Battalion Executive Officer Anita Antone, who carries the U.S. flag in the color guard, said she is excited about having this honor.
“This is good publicity for our program,” she said.
Color Guard Commander Leyton Klee, who carries the Arizona flag in the color guard, said she is excited but nervous because she does not want to mess up.
“We are very honored to be the only color guard for this,” he said.
Battalion S3 Christina Shupla, who carries the Hopi flag in the color guard, said she is happy about going because she did not expect to go on such a big important trip. She said she thought that other cadets would be placed ahead of her. An S3 is in charge of training and operations.
Nelson said cadets were selected first based on grades and then based on chain of command.
“Grades are always the most important,” he said.
Cadet Private Mariah Namingha, who carries the rear rifle in the color guard, said she is excited and honored to go because this will be her first time in the nation’s capital and her first time flying.
“I’ll be away from the rez and happy to represent the school,” she said.