Environment | National

Native Sun News: Medicine wheel greets Air Force at annual show

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health & Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Participants of the Satyagraha non-violence leadership training institute refurbished a Lakota medicine wheel symbol (upper left), an international environmental symbol (lower right), and a peace symbol on the outskirts of Ellsworth Air Force Base, just in time to catch the eyes of pilots at the annual Air Show and Open House.

Air Force meets truth-force
Medicine wheel greets Ellsworth Dakota Thunder Air Show
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health & Environment Editor

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE –– While the eyes of the public were on the skies at the annual Air Show and Open House this Aug. 15-16, the pilots providing the program could see something besides the crowd on the ground – a huge, freshly painted Lakota medicine wheel symbol, accompanied by the international peace and environment symbols, constructed on land adjacent to the military installation.

The goal of the 2015 Dakota Thunder air show was to “highlight the mission, resources and personnel of Ellsworth AFB, while providing education and awareness for civilian and military aviation,” the U.S. Air Force said in announcing the 2015 edition of the event.

The goal of the symbols was to highlight “the dichotomy of the good Judeo-Christian folks going out on a day of worship to watch weapons of death and destruction perform their antics,” said rancher Marvin Kammerer, who invited members of the Satygraha Institute to repaint the three symbols on his family homestead.

Satyagraha Institute is an organization dedicated to training leaders in the traditions of nonviolence, through summer multidisciplinary seminars. Its 2015 session took place Aug. 14-18 at Placerville Camp, located 28 miles west of the base, in the Black Hills.

Satyagraha is a Sanskrit term coined by nonviolence leader Mohandas Gandhi to identify a method of social change combining the use of satya (truth) with agraha (firmness) to create what he called “truth-force.”

Kammerer said the participants repainted the rocks forming the three symbols on Aug. 15, to send a message of peace and justice to the air show.

Like the other two symbols, the medicine wheel is formed by a circle of rocks. It has a cross of rocks in the middle of it; where the crosspieces meet the circle, four posts with flags colored black, red, yellow, and white are planted to represent four races, he said.

The three circular symbols have been in view of the war planes’ take-off and landing pattern since 1980, when some of the 12,000 participants in the Black Hills International Survival Gathering on Kammerer’s land put them there.

The grassroots activists’ gathering was held to raise awareness of alternative energy and boost public defense against threats to peace and justice posed by uranium mining plans in the Black Hills and by the trampling of indigenous treaty rights.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed this year at the Ellsworth air show for the first time since 2009.

Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander, said the show affords “community partners … a tremendous opportunity to learn more about our base and our mission through numerous displays and activities."

Sponsors of the free event included: USAA, Black Hills State University Rapid City, Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce, Midcontinent Communications, Regional Health, West River Electric Assoc. Inc., and GBK Joint Ventures.

(Contact Talli Nauman NSN Health and Environment Editor at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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