Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — November is Native American Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.
Ty Smith, project director at the Native American Center of Central Ohio, served as the guest speaker at the National Native American Alaskan Heritage celebration held earlier this week.
Smith is a tribally enrolled member of The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. With a master of social work degree from The Ohio State University, Smith also works for Tribal Tech, LLC as a training and technical assistance coordinator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center located in Washington, D.C.
“I do a lot of traveling and work with a variety of tribes. At the center, we try to raise awareness in Ohio. We’re kind of like the second coming of native people in today’s day and age,” said Smith. “The original natives were pushed out in the 1830s and 1840s era. The Shawnee, the Wyandot, the Delaware and Miami now live and exist in the Oklahoma territory.”
“We’re probably not that visible, less than one percent in the state,” Smith added. “The census will tell you that we’re probably just over 90,000 and there’s no set community. The center is really only one of the legitimate agencies in the state and has existed for over 20 years.”
“Just building awareness is where we’re at right now — raising that awareness and bringing more visibility to the people of today’s day and age to keep things in the current context. It’s important to get away from the Native American stereotype. We’re open to sharing our stories to help educate people and raise awareness. The focus on our mission is really to work on behalf of our people,” he said.