Message to Iraq
Food, music, letters and video prepared for Navajo Soldiers
by Marley Shebala
06 November 2003
ROCK ó Navajo voices, food, faces, drawings, letters and music
are headed to Baghdad, Iraq, today.
Nation Legislative Office staff assistant Leila Help-Tulley said
on Wednesday that she and other Legislative Branch employees
have been working late into the evenings to meet the Nov. 6
deadline for a Navajo care package for Navajo troops and other
military personnel to enjoy by Nov. 20.
takes about two weeks for mail to reach troops stationed in
said President George Bush designated Nov. 20 as the day for the
"Native American Heritage Celebration" for military
troops and personnel.
is National Native American Month and this yearís theme is
"Nations Within a Nation."
said the idea for a message from home for the Navajo troops
started with her brother-in-law, Julius Tulley.
Tulley, who is Julius Tulleyís older brother and married to
Leila Help-Tulley, remembered on Wednesday that his brother went
to Blanding, Utah, for his usual weekend military exercises for
the Army Reserves in November 2001.
Julius Tulley never came home.
Tulley said his brother and the rest of his company, which
consisted of 30 other Navajos, were ordered to remain in
Blanding until they were deployed to Iraq a few days later.
said that when Julius Tulley was deployed to Iraq on Nov. 26,
2001, her husband and she naturally kept in contact with Julius
and his company.
latest contact with Julius was an email about a week ago, who
wrote about the shooting down of an U.S. Army Chinook helicopter
that killed 15 American soldiers and wounded 21.
attacks have definitely increased," stated Julius.
"The enemy is now using sophisticated Iraq/Russian made
anti-weapons more than ever before."
added, "Just a day before this tragic event, my platoon was
attacked by four RPGís than landed about 150 yards in front of
us. However, we were protected by ten-foot wall.
attacks donít really bother me anymore. Maybe itís because
it happens so often. I know Heavenly Father is mindful of me
each and everyday.
of course this has to do a lot with your prayers for me. Thank
you. Please tell my loved ones and supporters that their prayers
are being answered here. Keep the faith and always be worthy of
said that Julius in earlier emails informed them about the Nov.
20 Native American Heritage Celebration that was being planned
and who to contact about getting involved.
said Navajo Broadcast Services NNTV-5 started working with them
on taping messages of support and encouragement from Council
Speaker Lawrence Morgan and several council delegates.
said the legislative staff also contacted Navajo entertainers to
provide some "rez" music on the video, which will be
said students from Tse Ho Tso Middle School in Ft. Defiance and
Ft. Wingate Community School asked to send letters and drawings
to the troops for the Heritage Celebration.
message board has also been created for people and family
members to post messages for their loved ones and service people
stationed in Iraq and other places overseas, said Help-Tulley.
said the video, letters and drawings, message board and food
will be shared in Baghdad with all the troops and others to see
on Nov. 20.
traditional Navajo foods, such as niítsíid digoohi
(kneel-down corn bread) and Navajo tea, is being sent for Navajo
soldiers and other service people to sample, said Help-Tulley.
noted that the niítsíid digoohi has to be dried before it
was wrapped for mailing.
Tulley said other Navajo families tried to send niítsíid
digoohi and it molded before it reached their family member in
explained that niítsíid digoohi and Navajo tea wee sent to
Iraq because "itís soul food."
added, "Itís a familiar taste for Navajos. Home is so far
away from them (Navajo service people). Particular smells, taste
carry them back home. Thatís the significance.
corn is the staple diet of Navajos. We use it to prayer with and
sustain and nourishment ourselves physically and spiritually. We
wanted to recognize that."
remembered that it was just a year ago that his younger brother
was working as a staff assistant for then President Kelsey
said, "I love the soldier and hate the war. I do not agree
with what lead up to this particular event, the war, but I
understand and support that he (Julius) committed himself to a
commander-in-chief and he (Julius) has to fulfill his mission.
That sums it up - love the warrior and despise the
40-minute message from home will be aired on NNTV-5 on Nov. 10,
Monday, at noon and 5:30 p.m.
as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine
of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html