ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – “Hailto, Chahta sia Hoke,” said Master Sgt. Sarah Linthacum, the 139th Airlift Wing equal opportunity adviser. That is the greeting in the language of her heritage.
Linthacum is a Choctaw Native American from Oklahoma. She enlisted in the active-duty Air Force in 1999 and eight years later transferred to the National Guard.
Linthacum says her heritage has a major influence in her service as an Airman and her daily life.
“I think a lot of my patriotism is definitely owed to the fact that I just feel a love for the land,” she said.
Linthacum’s Choctaw blood derives from her mother. Throughout history, the Choctaw women held positions of power and their opinions were highly valued.
“The Choctaw tribes have always been a matriarchal society. The matriarchal bloodlines were considered most important,” she said.
Linthacum preserves some practices and traditions to celebrate her heritage, including basket weaving, playing stickball, practicing natural horsemanship with her horse, and learning the Choctaw language. She is also teaching her youngest daughter some language and history.
She says her heritage is a major part of who she is.
“America is our land and our home,” she said. “And my people have been here since basically the beginning, and I feel very, very proud.”