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Native American Elder Honors
The AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors celebrates Native American elders who positively impacted their community, family, tribal nation, and nation. This honor celebrates a lifetime of service by distinguished Native American elders who exhibit a love of family, dedication to culture, and respect for all people.
AARP Oklahoma Native American Elders Honors celebration recognizes 47 Native American elders
The 15th annual AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors event honored 47 Native American elders from 23 Oklahoma tribal nations for their achievements, community service and impact. Since 2009, AARP Oklahoma has honored nearly 700 Native American elders from Oklahoma's 39 tribal nations.
The ceremony was held in Oklahoma City at the First Americans Museum, 659 First Americans Blvd., on November 1. 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 300 attendees and said the Native American Elder Honors was established to memorialize the work and contributions of elders who inspire future generations. Voskuhl thanked the honorees for answering the calling to contribute and lift communities. "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," Voskuhl said. "We are overwhelmed and inspired by the work you do."
The program included a performance by the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, an in-memoriam tribute, a presentation of the Dr. John and Tewanna Edwards Leadership Award to Carmelita Wamego Skeeter, and the presentation of 47 medallions to the 2023 AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors recipients. The medallions were presented to the honorees by AARP State President Jim Randall, AARP Oklahoma Senior Associate State Director Mashell Sourjohn, former AARP Oklahoma Executive Council Member Tewanna Edwards, and June Kao, AARP Audience Strategy Manager.
The 15th annual AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honor recipients included educators, veterans, artists, tribal leaders, culture preservationists and everyday heroes. Downloadable event pictures are available at hymerphotography.smugmug.com.
"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."
Nominations for the 2024 AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors will open in January 2024.