The 14th annual AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors event honored 40 Native American elders from 20 Oklahoma tribal nations for their achievements, community service and impact.
The ceremony was held in Oklahoma City at the First Americans Museum, 659 First Americans Blvd., on November 12. The floor-to-ceiling windows in The Hall of The People overlooked the First Americans Museum (FAM) Mound. The FAM Mound, a 21st-century mound that pays tribute to the Oklahoma tribes who descended from Moundbuilder cultures, served as a poignant backdrop for the ceremony.
AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl welcomed the 350 attendees. He said the Native American Elder Honors was established to memorialize the work and contributions of elders who inspire future generations. "Whether they are well known or exhibit quiet devotion to family and community, all our honorees represent the love of family, dedication to culture and respect for all. And today, more than ever, I think we can all agree, we could all use a little more of that," Voskuhl said.
Voskuhl asked the 2021 Dr. John and Tewanna Edwards Leadership award recipient, Tewanna Edwards, to say a few words. In her speech, the Chickasaw Nation citizen and Choctaw descendant mentioned her late husband. "John is smiling down on all of us today in seeing our elder continue to be honored with dignity and praise which they so deserve," she said. The award, renamed last year, recognizes lasting and meaningful contributions to Indian Country.
Bishop David Wilson presented the 2022 AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honor medallions to 39 individuals from 20 tribal nations. On hand to congratulate the honorees were AARP State President Jim Randall, AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director Mashell Sourjohn, former AARP Oklahoma Executive Council Member Tewanna Edwards and Jr. Miss Indian Oklahoma City Aubrey Elaine Berry. Pictures of honorees are available for download HERE.
The 14th annual AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honor recipients included teachers, veterans, artists, tribal leaders, culture preservationists and everyday heroes.
"These honored elders embody AARP's mission and, through example, motivate others to follow suit and selflessly serve their communities," Voskuhl said." Individually, their accomplishments are remarkable. In totality, their impact is breathtaking throughout Indian Country and our nation."