- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian is celebrating two special occasions.

Twenty years ago, President George H.W. Bush signed legislation creating the museum, which was finished and opened to the public five years ago, exposing 1.5 million people a year to the American Indian experience.

“The story of the Indian people of this hemisphere is central to America’s narrative and the world’s future,” says Kevin Gover, the museum’s director. “The National Museum of the American Indian is the place where that story is just beginning to unfold and be told by Native Americans.”

On Oct. 7, CBS news correspondent Hattie Kauffman will emcee the anniversary gala at the museum. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, and museum trustee and former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, will be recognized for their efforts in writing the groundbreaking legislation, and the museum will present its first Prism Award to someone who has made extraordinary contributions in the community.

The evening will include cultural performances by the Arizona California Territorial Bird Singers, the Metis Fiddler Quartet, and Inkompliant, with special guest appearances by Academy Award winner Buffy Sainte-Marie and actor Wes Studi.

Tickets are available for $500; VIP tickets cost $1,000. Contact Patricia Kramer at 202/633-6953 or e-mail KramerP@si.edu to inquire about attending.

Also on Oct. 7, the USO will hold its 2009 Gala and Service Hero Awards with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, actor Gary Sinise, and country star Trace Adkins.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where guests will wine, dine and salute the USO’s more than 60 years of service to military personnel and their families.

Tickets start at $1,000 and can be purchased by visiting www.uso.org.

On Thursday evening at the House of Sweden on K Street Northwest, Friends of the Earth are gathering to celebrate 40 years of earth-friendly advocacy by holding a cocktail reception toasting its former president and lobbyist Brent Blackwelder and its new president, Erich Pica.

Organic food and spirits will be served, and a special awards program will salute those who helped the green movement grow and thrive through the years.

Tickets are $125, and sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit www.foe.org/forty-years for more information.

On Friday evening, a galaxy of Washington stars will descend on a variety of ambassadorial residences for dinner before the 41st annual Meridian Ball, which benefits the nonprofit Meridian International Center.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and members of Congress are among the 600 guests expected to celebrate the 49-year-old organization, which was started to support global leadership-exchange programs.

Nearly 40 foreign dignitaries will welcome guests to their homes, and then the attendees will gather for dessert and dancing at the historic Meridian House. “Meridian’s mission is to promote global communication and better understanding around the world. I am thrilled to chair the ball on behalf of the incredible work Meridian has done for 50 years,” says Beth Dozoretz, chairwoman of the Meridian Ball.

Tickets are sold out, but visit www.meridian.org to volunteer or make a donation.

• Stephanie Green can be reached at sgreen@washingtontimes.com.

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