Tribal leaders, dancers, educators, artists, ministers, a drum maker, finger weaver, language preservationists, matriarchs and patriarchs were among 50 older Indians recognized at the 2010 AARP Indian Elder Honors recently held in Oklahoma City.
“The extraordinary accomplishments of Indian elders from all parts of the state have left an indelible mark on their families, their tribes, their communities and the state as a whole,” said AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Marjorie Lyons. “Whether they served their tribes in a leadership position, devoted themselves to cultural preservation or were simply a quiet source of strength to their family, this group of honorees embodies the qualities of AARP Founder Ethel Percy Andrus who lived by the moto ‘To serve and not to be served.’”
Lyons said AARP takes pride that honorees from all 38-federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma came together in unity and harmony to honor the accomplishment of their elders. This is the second year AARP Oklahoma has held its Indian Elder Honors.
Among special guests at the event, which was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, was AARP Executive Vice President Harroll “Hop” Backus and National President-elect Robert Romasco who delivered a keynote address.
“Running through so many of the elders’ contributions is a commitment to teaching, to connect this generation to their ancestry and create a legacy for them to carry forward,” Romasco said. “Tribal elders are the guardians of legacy and younger generations are the guardians of the elders.”
AARP Oklahoma is seeking volunteers to work with the tribes on a variety of issues through its Indian Council. Indian volunteers will receive briefings and communications on AARP advocacy, events and programs and play an important role serving as liaisons between the association and the tribes.
Anyone interested in volunteering for AARP Oklahoma’s Indian Council should contact Craig Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-715-4473.
2010 AARP Oklahoma Indian Honors Recipients
Barbara J. Allen - Tonkawa - long-time adamant voice in tribal politics, Barbara served five terms as tribal secretary/treasurer intermittently from 1969 to 2000. She is a strong advocate for preservation of tribal culture and also served as tribal court clerk for six years until her retirement.
Bill Barnett - Muscogee (Creek) - spent 45 years in higher education serving as dean of students, assistant basketball coach and head coach of track & field at Bacone College; Associate Director of the Multi-Cultural Enrichment Program at the University of Albuquerque; counseling staff at Langston University and coach/teacher at Seminole State College where he sponsored the Native American Heritage Association. Rev. Barnett is past executive director and presently chair of the Board of Directors for Indian Falls Creek Baptist Assembly – the largest Indigenous Christian Camp in North America. He is in his 35th year as founder and pastor of Indian Nations Baptist Church in Seminole and has preached in over 1,100 churches throughout the United States.
Doretha Bowen – Choctaw – active in church, the retired educators association and takes an interest in Choctaw politics as well as local, state and national politics. Doretha worked as secretary at Wheelock Academy before working 28 years as secretary to the superintendent of Valliant Public Schools. She is past president of the McCurtain County Retired Educators Association and has twice received the Volunteer of the Year Award for that organization.
Nelson BigBow - Kiowa - the great, great grandson of Chief Zepkoeete, Kiowa Chief (1833-1901) Nelson was raised in a traditional Native American home where his relatives instilled cultural values in him. He creates beautiful feather work which is used today by native dancers and the Native American Church members in their ceremonies. He has served as president of the Native American Church within the Kiowa Tribe. In addition he is a songwriter and singer having composed many Native American, church and war dance songs. In 1967, he helped found the Tia-piah Society of Oklahoma which has held an annual pow-wow for the past 43 years.
Raymond M. Cline - Delaware Tribe - has served the Delaware Tribe for more than 20 years, currently serving as Trust Board Chairman and as Tribal Council Treasurer. He has been chairman of the Community Service Committee since the creation of the Delaware Trust Board and has implemented programs to assist Delaware Tribal Members. In 1993 he was the Nowata Chamber of Commerce Business Man of the Year. He served on the Board of Directors for the Nowata City/County Library, is president of the Nowata Historical Society, Glass Mansion and Museum; Chairman of the Nowata Educational Endowment Foundation and the Museum for the Shenandoah Valley. As Chairman of the Nowata Industrial Foundation, Mr. Cline was instrumental in acquiring the location for the new Cherokee Nation Nowata Indian Clinic.
John William Cornsilk - United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee - has dedicated himself toward working for the recognition of those who descend from the Freedmen Rolls. He displays an incredible passion for the Cherokee people, using the Internet to keep tribal members informed on issues, encouraging open discussions and keeping the plight of the poverty stricken in the nation always in the forefront.
Dr. Pete G. Coser - Muscogee (Creek) - a teacher, professor and counselor at the higher education level, Dr. Coser was employed at Oklahoma State University for 21 years in the Division of Student Affairs as a coordinator in the Multicultural Student Center. He currently serves as an Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for American Indians at Bacone College in Muskogee. Previously he was Director of the Division of Human Development for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation; President of the College of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Chairman of the Coalition of Oklahoma Tribal Colleges. He was instrumental in obtaining accreditation for the College of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Leon Cross - Citizen Potawatomi - Indian Name, Was gishek (Bright Sky). A dedicated volunteer at the Potawatomi Annual Festival, he is often found teaching young tribal members how to make bows or helping to set up and judge the annual archery contest that he helped start with his son. At the age of 80, he began to study the Potawatomi language and has since become quite fluent. He can now can give invocations in the native language. He is an example that a person is never too old to start something new, most recently having participated in his first sweat lodge. He is an inspiration to Potawatomi tribal members and everyone he meets.
Charles Diebold - Seneca Cayuga - serves as Ceremonial Chief of Seneca Cayuga Tribe. Charles grew up in Indian Culture his whole life. He is a much-respected speaker performing native burial rites and educating tribal members on the cultural ways of the Seneca Cayuga. In addition, he serves as Second Chief of the Seneca Cayuga Tribe.
Randlett Edmonds - Caddo - fluent in the Caddo language, Mr. Edmonds has worked to preserve the language as a language consultant with linguists from the University of Oklahoma. He knows hundreds of Caddo dance songs including beat drum, alligator, turkey, Quapaw, Cherokee, bell, stirrup, woman, ladies choice, duck fish, Washanikee and ghost dance songs. His repertoire of songs also includes “49” songs, soldier, round/war dance songs, peyote and stomp dance songs. One of his greatest contributions is that he has taught his children and grandchildren many of the songs, especially the Washanikee and Woman Dance songs. Within the past few years Randlett revived the Woman Dance which had not been performed for at least 40 years. At age 96, he is still active in cultural preservation and is a blessing to the Caddo Nation. In 2010, he and his wife Geneva celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.
Charles Enyart - Eastern Shawnee - a past chief of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Mr. Enyart spent 29 years as a social worker for the State of Oklahoma as well as time spent as a social worker in the fields of home health and hospice. He was appointed by Governor Henry to serve on the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission and has also served as Chairman of the Board of Claremore Indian Hospital and Vice-President of the Inter-Tribal Council in Miami.
J.B. Fish - Alabama Quassarte - a highly respected member of the tribal town, J.B. is a pastor of Little Quarsarty Baptist Church in Cromwell. Known for his uplifting spirit, he has been on the economic development board for the Alabama Quassarte Tribal Town for a number of years and has helped guide the tribal town in many different projects.
June Fixico -Kialegee - learned the value of helping others from her parents. She works for the Muscogee/Creek Nation Caregivers Support Program that gives respite service to caregivers. A nurse, June has served on the Kialegee Tribal Town Health Board and has been instrumental in health screenings for adults and children. In addition, she is a member of the Kialegee Education Committee and worked for the Okemah Community Clinic and Hospital for 16 years and in the Community Health Representative Program for four years. She was the first woman Mekko elected for the tribal town and served from 1995-1999.
Phil Follis - Modoc - a respected tribal leader and elder, Mr. Follis has served on the Modoc Tribal Council since the tribe reorganized and received federal recognition in 1978. He currently serves as first councilman.
Grace Goodeagle - Quapaw - served as tribal administrator before being elected Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe in 1994. She was appointed by President Reagan to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education and to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission by former Governor Frank Keating. She has been a speaker at American Indian Day at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. and is a former U.S. Senate press aide, an editorial writer for the Joplin Globe and a producer/moderator for American Indian radio and television programs in the Denver area. Grace is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Indian Women’s Network and has been honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the American Indian Society of Washington, D.C., Elder of the Year of the Native American Women’s Association and Honored Elder, Wellbriety Indian Center, Colorado Springs. In addition, she comes from a musical family and is a gifted singer.
Cornelia Mae Gosney - Otoe-Missouria - the cornerstone of her extended family Mrs. Gosney has had a profound effect on the lives of all who come into contact with her. A trusted spiritual adviser, she has spent countless hours praying and counseling others. Drawing on her own health and grief issues, Mrs. Gosney always has a comforting word of good advice or assurance. Her contribution to the Otoe-Missouri people is soft and quiet.
Freddie Halfmoon - Shawnee - a respected tribal elder, Mr. Halfmoon raised four children after the death of his wife. He is a former chairman of the Shawnee Tribe and a World War II Veteran.
Enoch Kelly Haney - Seminole - internationally recognized Native American artist and former Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Haney was the first full-blood Native American elected to the Oklahoma Legislature, serving a total of 16 combined years as a member of the House of Representatives and State Senate. As an artist, he specializes in paintings and sculpture, painting in oil, acrylic, and watercolor and drawing with pastels, as well as sculpting with bronze. His work has been shown throughout the United States, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland. One of his best known works is "The Guardian," a 22-foot bronze sculpture that was placed atop the Oklahoma State Capitol dome in 2002. Other notable works by Haney include the "Chickasaw Warrior" sculpture at the Chickasaw Nation Headquarters in Ada and the “Standing His Ground” sculpture at Seminole State College.
Ernest Hooser - Choctaw - a retired educator, Mr. Hooser has served the Durant and Bryan County community for many years spending time giving programs on his Indian culture. At 92-years of age, Mr. Hooser remains a sharp and articulate speaker and is an inspiration to everyone he meets.
Melvin Imotichey - Chickasaw - one of the very few Native Americans who has coached on the college level, Mr. Imotichey dedicated 35 years of his life working with young boys, many of which had no other male father figure in their lives to make them strong, productive men. He ended his coaching career at Haskell Indian Nations University and has also worked for the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. In addition, he is often asked to speak at banquets and assemblies with a message of triumph over adversity and a strong message to stay in school to achieve your dreams. Mr. Imotichey is an inductee into the Murray State College Athletic Hall of Fame and was also recognized as a National Junior College Athletic Association Coach of the Year during his coaching career. His influence and impact is felt throughout many different tribes in Oklahoma.
Michael Pratt Kawaykla - Fort Sill Apache and Kiowa - a descendant of Chief Cochoise and Chief Mancus Colorado, of the Chirichua and Warm Spring Apaches, Michael attended Chilicco Indian School before eventually joining the Marines where he was wounded twice in the line of duty in Vietnam. He worked with Indian Health Service and the O.E. H. Department of Environmental Health serving his last years as a counselor with the Mental Health Division. Now an evangelist preacher, he has ministered to the Northern Cheyenne, Lame Deer Montana, Crow Indians at Crow Agency Montana, Sioux/Assinboine Indians, Popular Montana; Utes, Ignacio, Colardo; Navajo, Shiprock, N.M; Indian Falls Creek and Fellowship of American Indians.
Harry Kaudle Kaule - Apache – one of the first dancers who helped revive the Kiowa Apache Blackfoot Society in the 1960s. Mr. Kaudle Kaule retired from the navy and is a member of the Apache Native American Church where he is responsible for running meetings. He has conducted meetings throughout the United States and Canada, attends Sweat Lodge ceremonies and has seen many people healed.
Alan Kelly - Citizen Potawatomi - a tribal name “Knotko" ( Low-flying Eagle.) After retirement Mr. Kelly returned to Oklahoma where he immediately got involved with efforts to understand and preserve cultural histories. He has devoted himself to learning his native language and ceremonies so they can be passed on to future generations. He makes traditional medicine pouches and wooden pieces for feather fans which are given to family members for Potawatomi ceremonies. Alan is a member of Sustainable Shawnee which promotes environmental sustainability where he exhibits his deep respect for the environment.
Rosetta Arkeketa LeClair - Otoe Missouria - has been an active business woman in the Ponca City area and a respected member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe for more than 40 years. She belongs to the Buffalo Clan and is the granddaughter of Chief Arkeketa. Over the years, she has participated in many activities and cultural events including acting as chair of the Centennial Celebration for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and serving on the Ponca Tribe Pow-Wow Committee. In 2002, she was declared Woman of the Year for the Texas Indian Heritage Association. Mrs. Arkeketa LeClair received the “Red Arrow Award” from the Boy Scouts of America in 2009. Her community service has ranged from business where she served four years on the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce, to health when she served two years on the board of directors at Ponca City Hospital, as well as to education where she served two years on the board at Ponca City Vo-Tech.
Barthell Little Chief - Comanche - an award winning artist, Mr. Little Chief was a student of James Auchiah, one of the famous “Kiowa Five” artists. He has exhibited his artwork, paintings and sculptures throughout the United States representing his Oklahoma and Comanche cultures. Along with his traditional paintings that depict mystical visionary arts, he paints the stories of his people as told by his father, Tom Little Chief, a master bead worker, song composer and Kiowa headsman. Little Chief also works in a contemporary style devoted to endangered species and Indian subject matter. His works are part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Historical Society, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Southern Plains Indian Museum, the Southwestern Museum and the Comanche National Museum.
Dr. Henrietta Mann - Cheyenne & Arapaho - named as one of the top ten professors in the nation by Rolling Stone Magazine, Dr. Mann received the 2008 National Indian Education Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She is the founding President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College temporarily located on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford which inducted her into its hall of fame in 1997. She has been a professor/administrator at The University of California, Berkeley; the University of Montana, Missoula; Grade School of Education, Harvard University and Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kan.
Elsie Mae Martin -Thlopthlocco Tribal Town - committed over 20 years of her life as the primary caretaker for Ray Murphy, Jr. who was injured in a wrestling accident at Oklahoma State in 1969, which left him a quadriplegic. Ray struggled valiantly against all odds until his recent passing, July 20, 2010. Elsie’s deep faith and commitment to Ray’s well being, especially in the early years of his accident, gave him comfort. She was a constant companion in his travels and one of his biggest advocates as he continued his education and received a degree in computer science using the sip and puff method. Her devotion was demonstrated in the fact she accompanied him to his classes each and every day. Elsie would drive him through rain or snow… just the two of them. Ray’s education culminated when Elsie Mae walked him across the stage to receive his diploma. Her gentle hand and dedication to his care and comfort was a major contributor to his positive outlook and his determination to survive.
Juanita Long McQuiston - Wyandotte - well respected by tribal members, Mrs. McQuiston currently serves on the Wyandotte Board of Directors and has served in many capacities over the past 47 years. In recognition of her lifetime of service to the tribe, a new tribal building will be called the Long Building in her honor.
Joyce Big Soldier-Miller - Iowa - she is very well known and active in the Iowa Tribe’s community, always lending a helping hand in tribal programs. She speaks Iowa and tells stories to youth at the library, she helped organize the Iowa’s float in the Red Earth Parade 2010, and she travels and dances in pow wow’s all over the Nation. Joyce has been a very positive role model in her community and in her family. She is very knowledgeable in Iowa traditional and cultural ways of the Iowa people. She has been in numerous organizations and committees throughout the years. She attends church on a regular basis at the Iowa Tribal Whitecloud Building. She was an honored guest in the documentary called the “ Lost Nation -The Ioway”.
Stella M. Nullake-Nanaeto - Sac & Fox - currently serves as an elected committee member of the Sac and Fox Nation serving as Committee Member. Some of her many duties include serving as co-liaison for the Sac and Fox Veterans Organization, The Black Hawk Health Clinic’s Advisory Board, the Social Services Department, the Elders Committee/Title XI, the Language Department, the Sac and Fox Public Library, AGPRA/Repatriation Department, the USDA, the Rodeo Committee , the Activity Committee, the Employee Committee, and the IRR Program. She has participated in parades with veterans, attended many pow-wows and traveled to historic sites with the Historic Preservation Director. Before being elected, Stella retired with 35 years of service for Kerr-McGee Corporation and CITGO Petroleum Company. Stella is a traditional person and believes in the teachings of the older ways of the Sac and Fox. She believes strongly in preserving the language and retaining tribal religious ceremonies and takes an active part in these ceremonies.
In addition, she is very creative at making traditional clothing and dance regalia for her children, grandchildren and other family members.
Stuart Owings -Wichita and Affiliated Tribes – a former tribal president, Mr. Owings taught Wichita language and culture to high school students while as a coach at Riverside Indian School, Anadarko High School and Verden High School, often naming basketball plays in Wichita words. For 12 years he was the only singer in the Wichita Tribe that could sing Traditional songs, until he taught the songs to other singers within the Tribe. He is the only drum maker in the Wichita tribe and he has been making drums for 40 years. He has served as president and coordinator of the Wichita Annual Dance and Committee along with serving with the Grasslodge Singers, a tribal drum group. He is the only tribal member that still practices the gardening and preserving of corn and pumpkin the old way. He has preserved hundreds of years of Wichita and Pawnee culture and served on several committees teaching drum making, tribal games and Wichita food preparation. In the 1970s he helped with the building of Wichita Grass Houses at the tribal headquarters and has since built models of Wichita Grasshouses for the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Omniplex Science Museum. In addition, he has conducted Cedar Ceremonies and blessings for the Native American Cultural and Education Authority, the opening of the Oklahoma River, the Centennial Sunset Ceremony in Guthrie and for the Native American Wing of the Oklahoma Historical Society
Dixon Palmer “Tsain-Sah-Hay” (Blue Hail) - Kiowa/Choctaw - An artist, war dance performer, father, worker and tipi builder, Mr. Palmer has been a member and elitist of the Kiowa Tohn-Kon-Gah Warrior Society for 52 years and served 511 combat days during World War II. He has spent countless hours teaching youth and young adults the importance of cultural and traditional songs and dances and is the oldest member of the Kiowa tribe.
Steve Pensoneau - Ponca - is dedicated to his family and his tribe. He is the single caregiver of two grandchildren, volunteers on the Indian Education Advisory Board and established the American Indian Liaison position while a student at the University of Oklahoma. He has served on the Ponca Tribal Business Council and most recently was selected by the Administration of Native Americans to review applications received nationwide. Steve quietly and steadily does what needs to be done and, in doing so, is an excellent model for Indian people.
Luther Pepper - Kaw - a respected elder and member of the Kaw Executive Council, Luther is dedicated to tribal dance and preservation. He has narrated the part of his great-grandfather Allegawaho in the play Voices of the Wind People, which is a history of the Kanza people. In addition, he makes presentations on the significance of the Eagle to Native Americans. A minister in the Assemblies of God Church, Reverend. Pepper is recognized as one of the spiritual leaders of the tribe.
Dwight Pickering - Caddo, Kaw & Otoe - has devoted the last 30 years of his life working in education and athletics. A third generation of his family to attend Haskell Junior College in Lawrence, Kan., Mr. Pickering went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri. Mr. Pickering has worked with some of the finest Indian students and athletes in the nation -- some who became Champions and All Americans in their sports. Among his past positions have been director of Indian Education in the Sapulpa Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools, Head Women's Volleyball Coach, Head Men's Cross Country Track and Athletic Director at Haskell Indian Nations University. Since 2003, he has worked for the Caddo Nation. Among his honors and accomplishments are: Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year; Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission Dream Keeper Award-Renard Strickland Education Leadership, Sapulpa Public School Distinguished Service Award; Member of the National Indian Education Association; Member of the Oklahoma Council on Indian Education; Vice-President of Oklahoma Indian Higher Education Scholarship Administrators Association; Member of the Tribal Education Department National Assembly; Oklahoma Coaches Association Cross-Country Coach of the Year, Region 2; Inducted in the Tarkio College Athletic Hall of Fame; President of the Native American Amateur Boxing Association and Vice-President of One Nation Empowerment (Athletic Development.)
Linda Sue Poolaw - Delaware Nation - beginning with her involvement coordinating the Bicentennial Project for Caddo County in 1976, Ms. Poolaw has been an active member of the community and her native people. She spearheaded the identification and transfer of the remains of the infamous Delaware scout Black Beaver from a field in Anadarko to Fort Sill’s “Chief’s Knoll.” She was the first Delaware Director of the American Indian Exposition, served as president and a volunteer for the event many years thereafter, was a coordinator and developer of Delaware language projects, is a noted playwright, served as Chief of the Grand Council – a consortium of four sister Delaware tribes from Anadarko to Canada and has served on the Executive Council of the Delaware Nation starting in 1975 and continuing to the present day. In addition, Mrs. Poolaw is a spiritual leader for many Delaware ceremonial events.
Jimmy L. Reeder - Cherokee - has served on the board of directors of Indian Health Center of Tulsa for the past 23 years and is the 2002 recipient of the Education Leadership Eagle Award from the Indian Affairs Commission of Tulsa. He is the Chairman of the Dance of Two Moons fundraiser for Indian Youth and is a past member of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. He is active in the First Baptist Church of Tulsa and the Brookside Lions Club and served 33 years as a teacher and principal at Patrick Henry Elementary School. In addition, he served five years as a member of the Tulsa School Board. Jimmy was a very positive native role model for his students.
Carolyn Garren-Ritchey - Peoria - has served her tribe in the capacity of Grievance Committee member, Secretary Treasurer, and at present as the “First Councilman”. She has always had a deep interest in the Peoria Tribe and has been very active with her tribe. Along with being active in the Peoria Tribe, Carolyn has served the Miami Nation elders by providing services through the Caregiver Program. Carolyn is loved by all she serves. She goes above and beyond, and often provides home cooked treats for those households she serves. Carolyn retired from AT&T after working more than 30 years. She currently serves her “AT&T Pioneers” as President. She is the Vice President for the “Oklahoma Home and Community Education” (HCE), and will be President in January 2011. She was recognized with the Outstanding AT&T Pioneer Award in Oklahoma and as Member of the Year for the Northeast District of HCE. She is first vice president of the Fairland Lions Club.
Esteline Sloan Schulenberg - Absentee Shawnee - a full-blood, Esteline serves as the elected operations officer in the Tribal Veteran’s Association. She attends many events for the tribe and is active in the American Legion Post 88 in Norman – which she served as its first female commander. In 2001 she was the Oklahoma Female Veteran of the Year. She is a member of Women in Military Service for America and has served as president of Oklahoma Women Veteran’s Association.
Bill Shoemate - Comanche - giving of himself to young people, Mr. Shoemate is known for his generous contribution of leadership and devotion to his community and tribe. Currently employed as the General Manager of Indigo Advertising, and is a councilman on the Lawton City Council, Mr. Shoemate has received many awards throughout his life among which was 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award -- for serving a lifetime of dedication to the Children and Citizens of the Lawton/Fort Sill Community . Some of his many civic activities include: Optimistic of the Year, 1971; YMCA Board of Directors; Campfire Board of Directors, American Indian Cultural Center and Museum Board of Directors, Lawton Boys Club, Booster Club President, former Chairman of the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache Land Use Committee, Calvary Baptist Church Deacon. He is the First Chairman of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma-Southwest Chapter, a member of the Comanche Nation Business Committee , Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center Board of Directors, Oklahoma Republican of the Year in 2006, former president of the Comanche County Cerebral Palsy Association and a youth sports coach for over 40 years.
Mary Smith - Chickasaw - a true inspiration to all around her, she is the personification of the word “giving.” Working full time for the Chickasaw Nation as resource manager for the Chickasaw Nation Career Development Initiative Department, Mary monitors, counsels and assists Chickasaw adults by helping them find and keep jobs. Mary regularly volunteers her time to teach Native songs to Chickasaw elders at the Ada Area Youth Shelter and Goddard Youth Camp. In addition, she is the lay leader and youth coordinator at Boiling Springs Methodist Church. In the spring of 2008, Mary was asked to teach the traditional Choctaw hymns to elders attending the Chickasaw Nation Senior Centers. The classes began with Mary and just a few participants. Through her leadership, the group has grown to more than 15 singers. The Chickasaw Elders Choir, Chickasha Sipokni Hataloowa Chi, has become an icon for the Chickasaw Nation. The group sings at ribbon cuttings, conferences and ground-breakings, but most importantly, the group sings at Chickasaw funerals. Family members have expressed their appreciation for the singers stating that the songs complete the cycle for their Chickasaw family.
Henry Chapman Stoneroad - Pawnee - when Mr. Stoneroad started school at Pawnee Indian Boarding School, he was already fluent in Pawnee and Cheyenne. Nearly 90 years ago, he was of the first generation of Pawnees to be born in the new state of Oklahoma. A World War II veteran, Mr. Stoneroad worked with fellow Pawnee soldier Enoch Jim to relay vital information to commanding officers using the Pawnee language in the Philippines becoming a Type 2 Codetalker. He later worked 43 years for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Currently he serves on the Pawnee language committee, the cultural preservation committee and is in demand as a guest speaker by Oklahoma veteran’s groups.
George E. TallChief - Osage - respected tribal elder is former Principal Chief of the Osage Tribe, President of the Osage National Tribal Council and the National Tribal Chairmen's Association. His teaching career spanned 56 years, including 11 high schools, one college and one university. He served in administrative positions in four of the high schools plus the university. As Superintendent of Schools at Lodge Pole School, Hayes, Montana, he secured $5.5 million to build schools on the Assinaboine Reservation. In addition to teaching duties, he coached football, baseball and wrestling. He is a former scout for the Baltimore Colts and also was a liaison officer between a west coast university and the Dallas Cowboys at their first training camp. At age 92, he remains very active, driving weekly to Ponca City to attend services at Grace Episcopal Church where he is a member of the Vestry, serving as chairman of the Planning, Implementation & Review committee.
John R. “Jack” Thorpe - Sac and Fox - former Principal Chief of the Sac and Fox Nation, Jack learned leadership early in his life from his father – legendary athlete and Olympian Jim Thorpe – who impressed upon him the importance of tribal and cultural preservation and to never forget where he came from. Before election as Chief, he was a member of the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority later serving a combined 30 years as Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the Sac and Fox Nation, Housing Authority of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Housing Authority of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma and Housing Authority of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas. During his term of office, Jack contributed to the establishment of the Sac and Fox Nation Code of Laws. From the code of laws came the establishment of the Sac and Fox District Court system, Sac and Fox Tribal Police system, Sac and Fox Tribal Taxation system and the establishment of the first tribal vehicle license plate in the state of Oklahoma. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Blackhawk Health Center which was one of the first tribal health care facilities in the state of Oklahoma. Jack also contributed to the establishment of Sac and Fox Industries. Sac and Fox Industries obtained a contract from the Department of Defense and through this contract numerous jobs were created for tribal members and members of the City of Cushing.
Coweta Ulrey - Ottawa – a respected elder and spiritual leader, Ms. Ulrey’s knowledge of tribal history is unsurpassed by any living tribal member. She is a respected spiritual leader and maintains a presence in cultural activities and in events which impact the education of Ottawa youth and the well-being of tribal elders. She served as a volunteer in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II and worked in the medical field and as an educator for many years
Raymond Vann - Cherokee - a veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Vann is an advocate for Cherokee veterans helping them with their immediate needs. He continually works with Cherokee tribal members to help them with housing and legal issues. He has helped and still helps make the quality of life better for all needy families within the Cherokee Nation boundaries. A founding member of the Grounds-Up Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah and a teacher of Cherokee Indian History, Mr. Vann was a Commissioner for the Cherokee Nation Election Commission for four years.
Mildred Walker - Miami - the oldest living member of the Miami Nation, Mrs. Walker is well respected and loved throughout the tribe. She was instrumental in helping revitalize the Miami language and was recognized as the first senior tribal elder princess when the traditional Miami Pow Wow was re-established.
Anita Lookout-West - Osage - granddaughter of former Principal Chief Fred Lookout is one of the last remaining full blood Osages. Mrs. Lookout-West was raised in a traditional family that believes in maintaining the Osage traditions. One of her many attempts in accomplishing this is through her skilled art of finger weaving. Anita is one of the very few Osages left that still practices this vanishing art. She is very passionate in trying to preserve finger weaving by teaching it to other Osages, especially the younger generation. She offers free classes through the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center. Anita resides in the Pawhuska Indian Village, where in 2004 she was appointed to the Pawhuska Indian Village Five-Man Board. Currently Anita serves on the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Traditional Cultural Advisors Committee in which capacity she is responsible for advising the Historic Preservation Office while they are on archeological digs and excursions. Anita is a former Osage Tribal Princess having served from 1955-1959. She is a founding member of the Osage Tribal Princess Sorority where she is serving her second term as Vice-President. Anita and others wanted to offer a way to help current princesses in any way possible. Hosting an annual honor dance and hand game is one of their many attempts in aiding the princess.
Bob White - Kickapoo - has been dedicated in service to his tribe and community throughout his life. He served as a Tribal Administrator for the Kickapoo Tribe for 17 years, as chairman of the Kickapoo Housing Authority for 20 years and as a contractor for Indian Health Service. Bob is currently a minister in the McLoud area where he and his wife are active with youth.
Patricia Ann Woods - Chickasaw - started work with the Chickasaw Nation in 1972 as a Community Health Representative. She currently serves as administrator of the Division of Program Operations. She served on the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes for over 20 years, represented the National Indian Council on Aging for 26 years becoming the only woman ever elected to serve as chairman. In addition Pat was instrumental in securing direct funding from the federal government for tribal senior citizens programs all over the United States. She is a past recipient of the Betsy D. Smith award from the Oklahoma Task Force on Minority Aging, was a charter member of the Oklahoma Indian Council on Aging, served on the Chickasaw Election Commission and was involved in drafting the 1983 Chickasaw tribal constitution. She also assisted in establishing the first department dedicated to preserving the culture and history of the tribe and served on the planning committee for the new Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.
Tribal leaders, dancers, educators, artists, ministers, a drum maker, finger weaver, language preservationists, matriarchs and patriarchs were among 50 older Indians recognized at the 2010 AARP Indian Elder Honors recently held in Oklahoma City.
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