Each year, in honor of Veterans Day, the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut honors the exceptional military service of Native Americans in a formal dedication. This year, the Institute is once again inviting the public to participate in the program that will honor three Native Americans whose passion and loyalty have helped to make America what it is today on Sunday, November 14 at 12 noon.
The first honoree is Joseph A. Perry, Jr. (Eastern Pequot), a Vietnam Veteran who enlisted in the United States Army in 1960. Upon his Honorable Discharge as Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1963, he joined the Connecticut State Police in 1964, retiring in 1995 as Deputy Commissioner/ Colonel Division of State Police. In 1995 Joseph became the Director of Public Safety for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, retiring in 2011 as Inspector General.
Throughout his career, Joseph has volunteered extensively, serving several terms as a Tribal Councilor and Tribal Treasurer for the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation from 1996 through 2017. He also served on the Board of Trustees and Corporators of Norwich Free Academy from 1992 to 2007.
Currently, Joseph serves on Tribal Honor Guard, is a Tribal Ambassador and member of the Native American Heritage Advisory Council (NAHAC). In addition, he serves as a Corporator at William W. Backus Hospital, is on the Chairman Criteria Committee at the Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, and is a High School Football Official on the Eastern Connecticut Board of Approved Football Officials. Joseph is the recipient of numerous awards, including the University of New Haven Distinguished Alumni award, the Connecticut Chapter NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Southeastern Connecticut Chapter National Football Award – Distinguished American.
The second honoree is Albert E. Sargent, Sr., a second-generation submarine sailor. Sargent is a descendent of the Shinnecock, Pequot, Cherokee, and Pokanoket peoples, with ties to the Narragansett and Nipmuc Native American communities. Sargent enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1977. He first attended Radioman A School in San Diego, CA, and, later switched to sub-school training in Groton, CT. He served on the USS Trout SS566 and was later assigned to the USS Grayling SSN566 submarine in Charleston, SC, as a machinist mate. In April 1981 he was transferred to the USS Casimir Pulaski SSBN-594, where he became Petty Officer, Second Class. In 1984, he was given shore duty at the Sub school in Groton, CT.
In 1987 Sargent was offered a submarine construction job at Electric Boat in Groton, CT on the greatest FBM of its time, the USS Tennessee SSBN-734. He served on board this vessel until 1991 as Petty Officer, First Class. Offered shore duty again in Groton, CT at NSSF Naval Submarine Support Facility, he supervised a group of sailors to service the subs at homeport. Leaving the NSSF, Sargent was offered the opportunity to serve on the USS Groton in 1994. While serving on the Groton, he was selected for Chief Petty Officer and asked to serve two more years, but having served twenty years, he declined. Sergent served on the USS Groton from 1994 until his retirement in August 1997.
The third honoree is Dante Biss-Grayson, who served in the U.S. military as a Senior Airman from 2000 to 2012. His active military duty included seven combat tours in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Italy. In addition to Department of Defense Contracting, he was part of the Crash, Fire, and Rescue teams. He is trained in Emergency Management, Chem Warfare, base defense, search and rescue, heavy rescue, aircraft rescue, and inspection.
Today, Biss-Grayson is an Osage Artist that specializes in many media including fine art, large abstract paintings as well as drawings, installations, archetypes, abstract expressionism, expressionism, and the creation of ribbon skirts. A recent and ongoing project is creating poetry based on case files for missing and murdered indigenous women; to date, he has written more than 70 poems. Biss-Grayson, a world traveler will be at the Institute for American Indian Studies for the Veterans Ceremony as well as for several special programs planned throughout the weekend.
This outdoor ceremony will honor these individuals as well as all veterans, Native and Non-Native that have served our country. Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to enjoy light refreshments. This event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is requested. Please call 860-868-0518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS)
Located on 15 woodland acres the IAIS preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. We have an outdoor replicated 16th c. Algonkian Village, the award-winning Wigwam Escape, and a Museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut.