An 88-year-old Muscogee Creek who is a foster grandparent, the oldest living U.S. veteran of the Kaw Nation and a historical preservationist who consulted on the film, “Dances with Wolves,” were among 50 people recognized tonight at the 5th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors.
AARP Oklahoma State President Marjorie Lyons said this event, which has grown into the largest celebration of older Native Americans in the state, is a tribute to the venerated position of honor and respect tribal nations give to their elders.
“Though they come from different backgrounds and cultures, we see in tonight’s honorees, the common bond they share – respect, dignity and service to their fellow man,” she said. “Tonight, we add these names to the distinguished list of past honorees. We say ‘thank you’ and we give thanks for the ways they have touched so many lives in their families, communities and in our state.”
In the past five years, AARP has honored 250 Indian Elders from all 39-federally recognized tribes and nations headquartered in Oklahoma, she said.
Other honorees this year included spiritual and cultural leaders, a world-record powerlifting champion, dancers, veterans and a nationally known chef who creates healthy recipes inspired by indigenous foods.
AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl, who emceed the event, says the Indian Elder Honors is the cornerstone of the association’s on-going work with Native Americans in the state. Among other projects he highlighted include: a comprehensive survey of the needs and wants of Native Americans in Oklahoma, healthy cooking seminars, food security programs and health care law education for Native Americans.
“AARP’s vision of a society in which all people live with dignity and purpose is also the Indian way,” he said. “We are excited about how we can continue working to make that vision a reality in Oklahoma Indian Country as we continue to build relationships.”
Michael E. Bird, a member of the AARP National Policy Council, delivered the keynote address. Bird, a Santo Domingo-San Juan Pueblo Indian from New Mexico, was the first American Indian to serve as President of the American Public Health Association.
“These elders will leave an indelible impact on their tribes, their families and their communities for many years to come,” he said. “They have our respect and our gratitude for the ways they have helped keep and pass on our tribal traditions and way of life.”
AARP Executive Council member Dr. John Edwards, former Governor of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, was among those who spoke about AARP Oklahoma’s Inter-Tribal Community Group. The community group, which is open to all 50+ Native Americans in Oklahoma, is working on cultural, health and transportation issues that affect Indian Country. To find more information or join this group, e-mail email@example.com or call 1-866-295-7277.
Also speaking was the Reverend David Wilson, Conference Superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC). Wilson talked about AARP’s recent donation to OIMC that was used to directly help older Native Americans impacted by the May tornadoes. AARP donated more than $674,000 to 11 local organizations assisting in tornado relief efforts.
2013 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honorees:
Jeanetta Anderson – Muscogee Creek – a full-blood, she has devoted her life to her church, community and family. At age 87, she recently completed 15 years as a foster grandparent in the San Bois program and is active in the Deep Fork Hillabee Indian Baptist Church. She is one of the co-founders of the Checotah Indian Community and enjoys activities at the senior nutrition site, area gospel singings and visits with family and friends.
Larry Angelo – Ottawa – tribal leader and historian, Larry served as Second Chief of the Ottawa Tribe alongside Chief Charlie Dawes in the 1990s. He also served on the tribal historical committee where he worked to document the history of the Ottawa people.
Mary Arkeketa – Muscogee Creek –has worked her entire life to improve and promote the lives of Indian people as a nurse, volunteer, wife and mother. In recognition of her many years of service, the Tulsa Creek Indian Community Center named its kitchen in her honor. Mary is a graduate of Haskell Institute, where she is active in the alumni association, and attended Wheelock Academy. She has always promoted education, arts and culture and is an avid reader of Indian history. Mary is known for her encouragement and love to all.
Diana Autaubo – Seminole – a champion for improving the quality of health care for American Indians and Alaska natives at the local and national level. She is a member of Ocese Band and Deer Clan and served as the Ocese Band General Council Representative on the governing body of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. She has chaired the Wewoka Service United Health Advisory Board and the Seminole Nation Health Advisory Board. She is currently interim chairman of the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board and a member of the North America Indian Women’s Association. Through her advocacy and leadership, she has been instrumental in improving patient care services and communication between providers, tribal programs and tribal patients. She has over 26 years of experience in program development, training, conference planning and administration of tribal health clinics and programs.
Jack Baker – Cherokee – has served the Cherokee people in culture, history and government since the 1970s. Since 2006, he has served on the elected Cherokee Nation Tribal Council for At Large Cherokee Nation citizens for those outside the Tribe’s boundaries. He has served as president of the national Trail of Tears Association, treasurer of the Cherokee Heritage Center, board of the Oklahoma Historical Society and president of the Goingsnake District Heritage Association. In addition, he has facilitated more than 100 Trail of Tears survivors’ grave markings and been instrumental in obtaining the translation of the Moravian historical documents concerning the Cherokees. Jack has served not just the Cherokee people, but all Five Civilized Tribes in preserving the Trail of Tears routes, history, cultural sites and records.
Betty Starr Barker – Cherokee – educator, community leader and author, she continued to teach adult literacy after retiring from four decades of elementary classroom. She has been an active member of the Adair County Retired Educators, Stilwell Area Chamber of Commerce, and Kiwanis and is a 50-year member of Alpha Delta Kappa teacher’s sorority. She was born on her father’s Cherokee allotment and was appointed to the Registration Committee by Principal Chief Bill John Baker. In September 2012, she was honored as an Elder Statesman of the Cherokee Nation. She is a member of the National Trail of Tears Society, the Goingsnake Historical Society and the Adair County Historical Society. In addition, she is a descendant of Nancy Ward, beloved woman of the Cherokees, and is an active member of the Nancy Ward Society. She is actively involved in the Stilwell Strawberry Queen program and was instrumental in the restoration of the Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot in Stilwell.
Rev. Bertram Bobb – Choctaw – a full blood, Reverend Bobb is Chaplain of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1963 he founded Christian Indian Ministries, Inc. which he continues to direct today at age 89. The Bertram Bobb Bible Camp, which is located at the base of the Kiamichi Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma, was named in his honor in 1970.
Johnnie Brasuell – Muscogee Creek –has dedicated her life to preventing and controlling diabetes among Native Americans for more than 30 years. Under her leadership, she developed one of the first model diabetes programs and she also obtained national IHS and ADA Diabetes Certification recognition. Since 1989, her programs have received national recognition every year by the American Diabetes Association. In 2013, Ms. Brasuell was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Muscogee Creek Nation Department of Health. She also has taught other tribal and Indian Health programs how to implement successful, nationally- recognized diabetes programs. In addition, Johnnie has implemented many programs within the Creek Health System including the healthy heart program, walking program, Educating Partners in Care program, and the Pedorthic Orthotic Podiatry Prosthetic Services program. She has also initiated the Move It Program, Jump Rope Program, and Summer Youth camps. Her contributions and dedication has saved many Muscogee (Creek) citizens’ lives and have also improved the overall quality of life for Native Americans who suffer from diabetes.
Pauline Carpenter Brown – Chickasaw – a fluent speaker of the Chickasaw language, Pauline has considerable knowledge of Chickasaw history and culture. She serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee, the Chickasaw Nation Historical Society and the tribal election board. She also makes use of her knowledge in her work as a consultant to Wickliffe Mounds Archeological Site in Kentucky, the Union County Historical and Genealogical Museum in Mississippi, and The Old Post Office Museum in Mississippi.
Cordelia Clapp – Pawnee – advocate for Native American health, she educates tribal members throughout Indian Country on the connection between diabetes, stroke and heart disease. A spiritual sharing of the Indian culture has fulfilled her nursing career. She has been a volunteer for the American Heart Association for 10 years and serves as a national spokeswoman. In 2005, she received the Louis B. Russell, Jr. Memorial Award which honors an AHA volunteer who has engaged in outstanding and effective service promoting heart disease and stroke prevention awareness to minority and underserved communities. She was also awarded the Local Impact Award by the National Indian Health Board for her outstanding efforts in the improvement of health care delivery for American Indian/Alaska Natives. She continues extensive work related to domestic violence including work with the Family Violence Prevention Fund, SAFESTAR, and served on the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Violence Against Women in 2006-2007.
Ann Louise Bedoka Donaghey – Caddo – through her dedicated service as an elected official of the Caddo Nation, Ann has made a positive difference in the lives of her people, community and state. She served in elective office for 14 years, including time as vice chairman, and currently sits on the tribal council as a district representative for Anadarko. Ann worked as an accountant in the private sector her entire career and Material Management Director in the health care field. She also worked for the Chinle School District of Arizona, the largest school district in the U.S.
Kotcha Doonkeen – Seminole – a world-record power lifting champion that dominated the sport for 15 years in competitions all over the world. Kotcha started lifting weights in grade school while wrestling. He is the first recognizable American Indian to compete in the sport and his strength, endurance and tenacity has brought positive publicity to Indian community athletic endeavors. His best lifts were: squat lift of 960 pounds; bench press of 644 pounds; and a deadlift of 744 pounds. Today, he runs the family business his parents started 45 years ago and enjoys visiting with native tribes. He is a fluent speaker of the Seminole language.
Conrad Galey – Comanche – a pioneer in the pow wow evolvement of the nation, Mr. Galey introduced the Northern Grass Dance to Oklahoma’s southern plains pow wows. He is a composer of northern song, head singer at various events, cultural advisor for the Comanche nation, civic volunteer and senior elder for Norman’s American Indian community. Mr. Galey was a successful businessman known for mentoring aspiring Indian businessmen and educators and is considered the first American Indian graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Dr. Aaron Gawhega – Otoe-Missouria – a member of the Buffalo Clan, Dr. Gawhega is the last of the fluent Missouria speakers and is spiritual and cultural leader of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. Dr. Gawhega, a member of the Native American Church, is often called upon to perform important traditions, activities and prayer for his people, many of which he learned from his father Raymond, who was the last of the Missouria Pipe Keepers. Dr. Gawhega went to school on the G.I. Bill and spent 30 years working in Indian Education. He retired as an academic counselor at Haskell Indian Nations University in 2003. He currently serves on the Otoe-Missouria Gaming Commission.
Marshall R. Gover – Pawnee – tribal leader, businessman and veteran, Marshall serves as President of the Pawnee Business Council. He has also served as vice president, councilman and past-president. He has served as a member of the Pawnee Service Unit Health Board, is a member of the Oklahoma City Area Inter-tribal Health Board, the Direct Service Tribe Advisory Committee and an alternate for the HHS Secretary’s Technical Advisory Committee. He has been a small business owner and is a proud Pawnee warrior that served as a Combat Vietnam Veteran in the United States Marine Corps. He is a two time drum keeper for the Pawnee Indian Veteran’s Organization and a lifetime Taildancer for the Skidi dance.
Dr. Richard A. Grounds – Euchee – Dr. Grounds, a Ph.D from Princeton University, is the founder of the Euchee-Yuchi language project. He has taught at the University of Tulsa and is a global speaker and advocate for preserving native languages. He has spoken before the United Nations and the Geneva Convention, sat on the Board of Directors for the World Council of Churches and dedicated his life to preserving the tribal language of his people.
Irene D. Hamilton – Cheyenne-Arapaho – a master bead work artist, Mrs. Hamilton is a full-blood Cheyenne who was born in Colony. After the untimely deaths of her parents and older sister, Irene started raising her younger brother, who was an infant, when she was 14. Eventually she went to Medical Technology School and Physician Assistant School in Phoenix and became a Public Health Service Officer.
Pauline Haney – Muscogee Creek – a traditional craftswoman and storyteller from the Tiger Clan, Pauline developed Mvskoke language lessons and flute music with her late husband Woodrow Haney. She was chairperson of the Glenpool Creek Indian Community for two terms and is a member of the Polecat Ceremonial Grounds, Tiger Clan.
Eugene Harjo – Muscogee Creek – a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy, he founded the Central Indian Center in the 1950s — a street mission in Oklahoma City where he helped hundreds of Indian youth find a way out of the violence that was prevalent in the Indian community. Mr. Harjo was instrumental in arranging financing for what would become Central Baptist Church, which became one of the largest Indian churches in Oklahoma. He oversaw construction of a gym at the church and started Native Basketball leagues as a way to keep Indian youth off the street. Today, at age 89, Mr. Harjo continues to oversee church finances and makes the trip to church twice a week from his home in Weeletka. After retiring from the FAA, he went to work at Oklahoma City’s Villa Teresa School helping young children of Indian and Hispanic ancestry. He developed a relationship with the southern California Missions at Riverside and with the Northern Rancherias where he helped the Humboldt Bay, Eel River and Mad River Bans overcome alcohol and drug problems.
Fannie Harjo – Seminole – a member of the Tom Palmer Band, she has spent many years working on tribal housing issues advocating on the General Council and serving her people. She has impacted countless lives with her unbounded energy.
LaDonna Harris – Comanche – founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity and Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity, she has been an advocate and activist on behalf of Indian people nationwide. She was instrumental in the return of the Taos Blue Lake to the people of Taos Pueblo and to the Menominee Tribe in regaining their federal recognition. She played a leading role in the founding of the National Indian Housing Council, the Council of Energy Resource Tribes, the National Tribal Environmental Council and the National Indian Business Association. She was appointed to the National Council on Indian Opportunity by President Lyndon B. Johnson; the White House Fellows Commission by President Richard M. Nixon; the U.S. Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year by President Gerald R. Ford; and the Commission on Mental Health by President Jimmy Carter. As a national leader, she has influenced the agendas of the civil rights, feminist, environmental and world peace movements. In addition, she has served on many national boards including Girl Scouts USA, the National Organization of Women and the National Urban League.
Jim Henson – Keetoowah – a past Keetoowah Chief, he uses the Cherokee Native American traditional way of unselfishly passing down cultural knowledge from generation to generation. He has worked in schools with students of all ages to teach the Cherokee language, facilitated substance abuse prevention and intervention classes, conducted cultural ceremonies and served in many advisory positions. As a result of his work, many people have turned their lives around and are now on a new journey away from substance abuse. His wisdom and knowledge have blessed and benefited an enormous number of people.
Charles “Sonny” Holloway – Kaw – is a respected and admired Kaw Tribal Elder and a United States Navy Veteran who served in World War II. At age 90, he is the oldest veteran in the Kaw Nation and continues to represent the tribe at veteran’s events. Mr. Holloway served with the Sea Bee Maintenance Unit 509 & served in Alevtian Islands, IE Shima & Okinawa. During his service he was awarded the Asian Pacific Medal, American Theatre Medal, Victory Medal & Good Conduct Medal. Mr. Holloway is an absolute joy to be around and he puts a smile on every face that he encounters.
E. Bernadette Huber – Iowa – former Chairwoman of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Ms. Huber is dedicated to the advancement of her tribe. She shares her cultural knowledge with Iowa Tribe youth and is actively involved in Iowa Tribe’s annual pow-wow. She serves as executive director of the Iowa Tribe Gaming Commission where she utilizes her expertise in gaming to maintain compliance with tribal, federal and state laws and she has served on numerous boards in the past.
Clark Inkanish – Wichita & Affiliated – has spent his life working with Indian people who suffer from chemical dependency. He has served as Director of the Tulsa Indian Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, as consultant to the National Health Institute and National Institute on Alcohol Treatment and in private practice. Clark is a U.S. Army Veteran and has served on the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, Mental Health Association of Tulsa and the Tulsa Indian Club.
Rose Jefferson – Chickasaw –fluent speaker and teacher of the Chickasaw language, Mrs. Jefferson, a full-blood, serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee and Chickasaw Nation Election Commission. She is an active member of the Chickasaw Nation Senior Center in Ada and is the current vice president of the Ada Circle of Council. She is known for her beautiful beadwork, sewing and quilting, which she sews for surgery patients at Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. Rose has been influential in developing “new” words in the Chickasaw language, along with taking part in the development of the Chickasaw Language app available on I-tunes. She is an active member of the Mitchell Memorial Methodist Church and participates in the Chickasaw elders choir, singing traditional hymns at funerals and gatherings.
Cornelia Quoetone-Karty – Comanche & Kiowa – her devotion and care as a registered nurse in numerous hospitals, medical offices and the Lawton USPHS Indian Hospital has helped improve the lives of hundreds of Indian people. Since her retirement, she has worked with the Comanche Nation Elder Council and helped create an appointment reminder system at the Lawton Indian Hospital. She served on a committee that worked on plans to build a long-term care facility for Kiowa, Comanche and Apache tribal members, volunteered at the Pregnancy Resource Center and serves as a Judge in the Comanche Nation Children’s Court. Cornelia has been a Sunday School Teacher for 15 years in several Indian churches and has served as church treasurer for five years.
Keeper Johnson – Muscogee Creek – known for developing numerous community service projects that have made a positive impact on the Muscogee people. He has served seven terms as an elected representative for the Muscogee Creek Nation and was a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation Housing Authority Commission, one of the first Indian tribes to have a housing authority. He was instrumental in sponsoring legislation and promoting the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and the Reintegration Program within MCN, legislation for all Muscogee Creek students to receive books, tuition and fees, and legislation for elder to receive the Life Alert program. He is one of the founders of the Morris Little League Baseball Association and a Deacon at Belvin Baptist Church in Okmulgee.
Janice Rowe-Kurak – Iowa – tribal leader, role model to women, mentor and advocate on Native American issues who has raised awareness and helped individuals in need. As Chairman of the Iowa Nation since 2008, she has worked to improve education, medical, utilities and other family assistance programs. During her years of employment at the Federal Aviation Administration she was instrumental in creating the American Indian Council. She served as the Native American Liaison in the FAA Office of Civil Rights where she planned, coordinated, and arranged special observances for Native Americans. She worked with various federal and non-federal agencies, and tribal officials in support of Native American programs and issues, including employment of Native Americans, on both the state and federal level.
Charles Lookout – Osage – tribal leader and veteran, he is a native of Pawhuska and his upbringing is in native grasslands and native people. At age 90, he continues to serve on the Osage Tribal Council. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946 where he served on the CV-3 U.S. Saratoga, the largest aircraft carrier in the American fleet at the time. He earned six battle campaign medals as well as the Navy/Marine Core Combat metal. Following his service, he earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University and was employed by the Tulsa City County library for 20 years. He has served as VFW Post Commander and Past Alumni President for the Theta Chi Fraternity.
Sandra Dacon-Medrano – Thlopthlocco & Muscogee – a member of the Turtle Clan, she spent much of her early career in corporate America working to make sure work/life quality was something special for employees. As a consultant she worked with some of the nation’s largest firms such as General Motors and NASA and dedicated herself to numerous American Indian organizations. She was a promoter of holistic wellness drawing attention to the importance of mind, body and spirit. She has been a community advocate for artists and youth. She has a unique gift the Creator bestowed upon her to help people prepare to leave this world and has walked numerous friends through the process to eternal peace, assisting them with business affairs, interpreting medical diagnoses, advocating for them with doctors and families, often helping them plan their final days on earth with dignity and often staying with them to the end where she offered peace and comfort.
Ted McCullum – Modoc – tribal leader and veteran, Theodore O. McCullum has served on the Tribal Elected Council for 29 years. At age 85, he continues to give the Council his wisdom and insight that comes with maturity. A descendent of U.S. Grant a.k.a. Akekis of the 1873 “Modoc War,” Ted served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1945 to 1948 and the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1953. After his military service he worked for the Veterans Administration at the regional area office where he retired.
Joanna Palmer-Morris – Seminole – a well-respected elder, she was the tribal treasurer for 13 years and a member of the tribal business council for 20 years working with four former chiefs. She also served on the Five Civilized Inter-tribal Council. She is bilingual and speaks the Seminole language fluently and has a historical knowledge of tribal customs and spiritual traditions. Recognizing the need for the youth of her community, she and her late husband Bill donated land to Sasakwa School system for a football field.
Loretta Barrett Oden – Citizen Potawatomi – nationally-known chef who has adapted recipes to preserve the culinary legacy of her upbringing. She began her passionate relationship with food as a small child at the side of her mother, grandmothers and aunts and partnered with her son, the late chef Clayton Oden, to open the Corn Dance Café – the first restaurant to showcase food indigenous to the Americas. Loretta has been featured nationally on programs including Good Morning America, The Today Show and in The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler. She served as a guest chef in the Robert Mondavi Great Chefs Series and the 2006 Taste Celebration in Napa and on Barbara Pool Fenzl’s PBS series, Savor the Southwest. Loretta is the host of the new 5-part PBS series, Seasoned with Spirit, a culinary celebration of America’s bounty combining Native American history and culture with delicious, healthy recipes inspired by indigenous foods.
John Pinezaddleby – Kiowa – counselor, educator and veteran, John is a member of the Kiowa Black Leggings (Ton-Kon-Gyah) and the Kiowa Gourd Clan. He has been involved in the substance abuse treatment field for the past 28 years. He currently works with at-risk students at Riverside Indian School where he promotes healthy recovery using Native American teachings and values. John has served as past sponsor for the Apache-Pima Club and the O’odham Traditional Dancers and Singers. He served in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in Vietnam and the 47th Infantry Platoon Scout Dog in the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. He has served as Commander of VFW Post 1015 since 2004, is a member of the American Legion Post 24, the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association, the Combat Infantryman’s Association and the 101st Airborne Association. He presents programs about the use of Military Working Dogs and draws on his own personal experience as a Scout Dog Handler during the Vietnam War where he served alongside his two very brave four-legged soldiers FANT-K027 and BUD-64A7.
Mary Ann Powell – Citizen Potawatomi – has spent much of her life helping Indian people with health and nutrition. In the early 1970s she started the Community Health Representative program for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She worked for Texas A&M in their nutrition program where she did home visits and trained volunteers to teach low-income families how to cook using commodity food. She returned to the Potawatomi Nation as Director of the CHR program and spent time working at Carl Albert Indian Hospital in the Women’s Clinic. Today, she welcomes guests from all over the country at the Citizen Potawatomi Heritage Center.
Barbara Smith – Chickasaw – attorney, educator and tribal leader, Barbara is currently serving her third term as Chief Justice of the Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court. Prior to this appointment, she served as District Court Judge for the Chickasaw Nation. She also serves as Special Judge for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Courts and is a practicing attorney. Prior to her law career, she taught mathematics at Norman High School. She is an adjunct professor at the OU Law School where she teaches Tribal Courts and has taught in the Native American Studies Program teaching Tribal Sovereignty. Chief Justice Smith is on the board of directors of the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder; the Board of Directors of the National American Indian Court Judges Association and the Advisory Council for the National Tribal Judicial Center.
Carolyn Smith – Shawnee – has been an integral part of the Shawnee Tribe since it received its federal recognition in 2001. She has been a member of the Business Council and the ceremonial grounds in White Oak since childhood. She retired from Adair Public Schools after 30 years of service.
Sherry Smith – Comanche – a drug and alcohol counselor who has helped many people break free from addiction and regain their lives. She has worked with juveniles and inmates and currently works with the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Program. She completed her Master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma after raising her family, and is passionate about helping other people.
Towana Spivey – Chickasaw – throughout his life and career, he has been involved in preserving the history, language and culture of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Chiricahua, Apache and Warm Springs Apache. While conducting archaeological investigations at 19th century military posts and historic sites, he worked simultaneously as curator for the Chickasaw White House, and was also a consultant on the preservation of the original 1855 Chickasaw Nation Council House. Since 1982, Mr. Spivey has been director/curator at the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum in Lawton and is also a senior curator for the US Army Museum System, where he is involved in the planning of the new Field Artillery Museum at Fort Sill. He has written several books and articles pertaining to frontier history and has served as a consultant in at least 35 television documentaries. He has also worked as a historical consultant to movie productions, playing in intricate role in development of characters and historical accuracy in the making of movies including “Windtalkers” and “Dances with Wolves.”
Larry Spybuck – Absentee Shawnee – as tribal chief of police he was instrumental in developing new policies that resulted in better relations with the FBI, local law enforcement, city, county and other tribal police departments. His leadership, care and concern for tribal leaders is backed by his pride in his Indian heritage and traditions. He attended Haskell Indian Nations University where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. In addition, he served as tribal gaming commissioner.
Ross Swimmer – Cherokee— served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1975 to 1985 and as Special Trustee for American Indians at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under his leadership, self-governance was returned to the Cherokee Nation. Chief Swimmer’s foresight, leadership and legacy have had a lasting impact on the Cherokee Nation as well as all of Indian Country. He was instrumental in establishing a Cherokee Nation WIC project in Tulsa, which formed the foundation for the Tulsa Urban Indian Clinic and bringing Wilma Mankiller forward as his Deputy Chief candidate and the Tribe’s future Chief.
William Tall Bear, Sr. – Cheyenne-Arapaho – known for his kind and caring spirit, Mr. Tall Bear demonstrates love for his fellow man by regularly checking on tribal elders who are homebound or in nursing homes and driving elders to their medical appointments. He attended Concho Boarding School until he was 17 years old before joining the United States Marines Corp where he served two tours of duty in Korea and was honorably discharged. Afterward, he was part of the Relocation Program where he and his wife were sent to California, where he attended trade school and became a welder. He is part of the Buddy Bond Color Guard that carries flags at events throughout Oklahoma.
Harriet Tehauno – Choctaw – has dedicated over 40 years of her life doing volunteer working with children. She has devoted her life to preserving her tribal culture and her heritage to pass down to young people. She is an active volunteer with the Shawnee Public School Indian Education Committee where she has a positive impact on students and has shared her native language.
Wilbur “Webb” Tipton – Miami – a member of the Country Swing Music Hall of Fame, Mr. Tipton has taught music his entire life and has played with members of his family, including his cousin, former Miami Chief the late Floyd Leonard. He has served as vice president of the Oklahoma State Fiddler’s Association and is known as a great storyteller.
Cecil Wahpekeche – Kickapoo – is a loyal and dedicated volunteer for his tribe and community. He is always willing to help wherever and how ever he is needed and has shown much kindness helping tribal elders with their needs.
Shirley Walker – Seminole – currently is the National President of the North American Women’s Association and is Chief of the Ocese Band. She was the youngest female elected to serve on the Seminole Nation General Council and also served on the Housing Board of Commissioners, Election Board and Development Authority. She served as treasurer of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. Shirley retired from the U.S. Indian Health Service, Oklahoma City Area Office, after 30 years of service and is currently the Director of Tribal Enrollment and CDIB for the Seminole Nation.
Maxine Williams-Thompson – Ponca – has impacted the lives of hundreds of people through her dedication to community service. She helped start a clothing closet and a homeless shelter and was a pioneer in the CASA program and the Indian Child Welfare Act. She currently serves as director of the Title VI Nutrition Program at the Ponca Tribe.
Julia Wilson – Osage – is an active community volunteer and role model. She is a volunteer not only in her tribe, but also in the community and her church. As a breast cancer survivor, Julia is an inspiration to others and is actively involved in walks and other activities that help fund breast cancer research and awareness.
Jack Yargee –Alabama-Quassarte – is dedicated to tribal traditions and government service. He is the Second Chief of the Alabama Ceremonial Ground and serves on the governing committee for the tribe. Mr. Yargee has volunteered at the Little Olympics, children’s fishing derby, princess pageant and cutting grass. No matter what the occasion, Jack Yargee is always willing to serve.