OKLAHOMA CITY – On Oct. 4, 2011 the AARP, an organization benefitting older Americans, held the 3rd annual Indian Elders Conference at the Cowboy Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Fifty Native American elders from the 37 federally recognized tribes of Oklahoma were there as well as Oklahoma AARP representatives.
Honoring the elders of Oklahoma was the main focus for the event and after a dinner provided, the program started with storytelling from one of the honorees, Sequoyah Guess, United Keetoowah, who told a story about a rabbit and his “foot-foot.” An opening prayer followed from honoree the Rev. Videll Yackeschi, Comanche, in the Comanche language.
The Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, a Native American dance group, also opened the show before the packed room full of honorees with their families, friends, and guests with traditional pow-wow drumming music sung by one of the honorees as well, John Lee Kimble, a Ponca elder, who is known for his pow-wow singing throughout the pow-wow community. He interpreted one song in which the words were “even though the enemy charges I will not move, I will not run away.”
The Oklahoma Fancy Dancers danced to the beat of the drum and the performers individually performed a couple of pow-wow traditional dances such as the woman’s fancy shawl, jingle dress, men’s straight dance, and fancy dance.
“I feel honored to be able dance for our elders here this evening; amongst our elders that are honored and singled out for things that they have done in their lives and the examples that they have set for the younger people and it’s really an honor to be here and be able to do something for them and to give them something to smile about,” Lisa Deere, from the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, said.
After the introductions representatives from the AARP, Marjorie Lyons, state president AARP Oklahoma, Hop Backus, AARP executive vice president, John Penn, AARP National Board of Directors, handed out awards to the elders who were present. The 50 honorees awarded included elders from a wide range of careers, backgrounds, accomplishments and talents.
“No group of people respect their elders more than Oklahoma Indians,” Backus said.
Winey Yargee, Alabama-Quassarte, a respected elder from the Tribal Town of Alabama, was one of the many honorees. Escorted by her sons, Robert and Tarpin, whom are both ceremonial ground chiefs, Yargee has been the head lady of the Alabama-Quassarte Ceremonial Grounds since 1960 and first lady of the Wetumka Indian Baptist Church. She is also the last surviving sister of the first chief of the tribal town who gained federal recognition for the Alabama-Quassarte Tribe. Needing her son Robert as an interpreter in receiving her award, Winey proudly admitted that she “has over 100 grandchildren.”
Also honored were husband and wife, Kenneth and Rita Coosewoon, who were recognized for their life’s work and dedication within the Native American community.
“I have helped Natives from all walks of life set up sweat lodges,” Kenneth, Comanche, said. “I enjoy … working with prisoners and youth who are incarcerated.”
Kenneth has helped set up sweat lodges for Native American prisoners in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and California and has been doing his work for over 37 years. He currently works in San Marcus, Texas, at a youth shelter guiding and mentoring at-risk Native American kids from all across the United States and has been there 13 years.
Surprised at being honored at the event was Harvey Phillip Pratt, Cheyenne and Arapaho, Pratt was Interim Director for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations in 2010 and has been working in law enforcement for over 40 years.
“It’s always a surprise when people honor you and you don’t aspire for those kind of things, you just live your life the way the creator wanted you to do and I’m honored, surprised but honored,” Pratt said.
Pratt is best known for his forensic drawings and soft tissue postmortem reconstructions and has recently worked on forensically sketching Bigfoot/Sasquatch from eyewitnesses for a book project.
According to the organizations Web site, “AARP was founded by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired high school principal in 1958 and evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which Dr. Andrus had established in 1947 to promote her philosophy of productive aging, and in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance. At that time, private health insurance was virtually unavailable to older Americans; in fact, it was not until 1965 that the government enacted Medicare, which provides health benefits to persons over age 65. Dr. Andrus approached dozens of insurance companies until she found one willing to take the risk of insuring older persons. She then developed other benefits and programs, including a discount mail order pharmacy service.”
AARP’s dedication to older Americans extends to diverse populations and communities from around the globe but in particularly to the Oklahoma Native American community by launching the AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Navigator, a single point of entry Web site that can be found at: www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator.
“We hope that this new Web site will be a place where an Indian Elder from any Oklahoma Indian Tribe can go to find the service or resource that best fits their need. We envision it as a ‘living room’ of information for tribal elders,” Backus said, noting AARP will be working directly with tribal leaders and program directors on the project.
Dr. Richard Allen – Cherokee – educator, leader, advocate. Dr. Allen spends a significant amount of time traveling to work one-on-one with government entities to enforce the protection of sacred sites, the return of ancestral remains and to secure cultural items for return under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. A combat Vietnam veteran, Dr. Allen also works formally and informally on behalf of all veterans.
John Edwin Anderson – Chickasaw and Choctaw – has volunteered extensively in the community of Chickasha with youth, elders and churches. He checks on people that are sick or need shopping done; maybe just someone to visit with them. He traveled to Washington, D.C. last year with the Chickasaw Nation for veteran’s honors. John was noted in a book written by Patty Dickerson, "Tommy Thompson and the Boys of Sequoha Indian School". In 1949, John won first place in Oklahoma Golden Glove Championship. He graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 1979 with a BA degree in Sociology.
Leola Barnett – Kialegee – respected tribal elder, leader and member of the Wind Clan.
Leaford Bearskin – Wyandotte – served 28 years as Chief of the Wyandotte Nation, retiring earlier this year. During his tenure as chief, he reorganized tribal leadership and began working with the federal government to gain self-governance for the Wyandotte tribe – the first small tribe in Oklahoma to receive that designation. He focused on education from early childhood development to college scholarships. Through several business ventures, tribal employees increased from five to over 500 and the services in the community have vastly improved including: the establishment of an elders program, health, wellness, cultural, historical and housing programs, library, and nutrition center. Bearskin is a highly decorated World War II bomber pilot, having flown 46 successful missions in the South Pacific and 29 Berlin Airlift missions. Prior to returning home to Oklahoma, he served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and completed a 20-year career in federal civil service.
Mary Birdtail – Absentee Shawnee – active in the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Elders Council where she has held positions as president, vice president and secretary, Mary worked for Cache Public Schools and the Comanche Nation as an education clerk. Her office was instrumental in obtaining federal funding for 13 parent committees to serve Native American students in schools in southwest Oklahoma. In 2004, she began working for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe as a receptionist and later as Tribal Liaison at Thunderbird Casino. She is serving her third term as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Election Commissioner.
George Blanchard – Absentee Shawnee – a full blood, George has served as Governor since 2009. Born in a log cabin in eastern Cleveland County, he grew up speaking his native language and eventually taught language classes. He also served as chief of security for the tribal casino for 20 years. He later served as a dialect coach, cultural expert and extra for a PBS documentary on Tecumseh. He has assisted the Eastern Shawnee Tribe with language classes and has participated in language recordings. He offered the opening prayer at the Centennial Celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in St. Louis. In addition, he has worked to preserve the culture and tradition of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe.
Jerry C. Bread – Kiowa – A founding member of the OU Native American Studies program, Dr. Bread has extensive academic and professional backgrounds in Indian education, tribal affairs and governance and Indian policy. He is a member of the Kiowa Nation of Oklahoma and has strong family and cultural attachments with the Cherokee Nation through his father. His professional history includes representation on numerous local, state, tribal, and national committees, organizations and advisory boards.
His research and teaching interests focus on American Indian participation in education, tribal governance and policy development, history leadership, cultural influence on learning and teaching, language and contemporary American Indian Affairs.
Nora Cheek – Thlopthlocco – the oldest surviving member of Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Mrs. Cheek worked in the cotton fields in Cooperton to support her 10 children after the death of her husband. She instilled the value of education in her family and encouraged them to be independent. After returning to Okemah, she began attending Thlopthlocco Methodist Church and walked six miles each way to work to provide for her family. She became a medical care aide before eventually working for the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town. Her works, faith and service have earned her the respect and love of all who know her.
Hank Childs "Xla Xanje" (Big Eagle) – Otoe-Missouria -- throughout his life he has worked to educate people about his culture and to preserve the tribal traditions that were entrusted to him. He is a volunteer speaker at Enid Public Schools and Northern Oklahoma College, where he talks about his culture. Mr. Childs has also served on the board of the Enid Intertribal Club. He has served countless times as head gourd dancer at gatherings across Oklahoma. Mr. Childs has served 11 terms on the Otoe-Missouria Encampment Committee in the last 30 years. He is currently the chairman of the committee in this historic year as the tribe celebrates 130 years of Encampments in Oklahoma.
Lena (Ellis) Pennock Clark – Sac and Fox – great-granddaughter of Chief McKosato, Lena belongs to the Thunder Clan and her Indian name is NaTaWe which means “A Streak of Lightning.” Lena has participated in pow-wows from an early age. She has enjoys the songs, dancing and friendships and has fond memories that have lasted a lifetime. She has also served as tribal secretary for the Sac and Fox Nation, has been a long-standing member of the Sac and Fox Veterans and Auxiliary group and has served as president and treasurer on the Pow-wow Committee. She attends tribal ceremonies, and is a member of the Elders Advisory Board. Lena has been head lady dancer at pow-wows several times and was elected 2008 Sac and Fox Senior Woman of the Year. Her robust quality and enthusiasm is hard to keep up with. She truly lives each day to the fullest.
Judy Cobb – Modoc – was born in Joplin Missouri and raised in the Miami area. She attended school in Miami and graduated with a BS in Business from Missouri Southern University. Since graduation, Ms. Cobb has been the owner and manager of several businesses, from distribution to retail to commercial property. She has served on both chamber of commerce and college foundation boards. Her longest tenure at one position, and perhaps her most important, is her service to her tribe. Ms. Cobb has served as Second Chief of the Modocs since 1984. She was and continues to be one of the few women tribal leaders in the nation and has dedicated her time and efforts for the betterment of her people. She serves in a government role and also as a leader in the economic development of the tribe. She was also instrumental in the development of the tribe’s housing authority and has served as chairperson since its inception in 1998. Ms. Cobb’s leadership and business experience has been instrumental in the success of the tribe.
Velma Coker – Seminole – from the Bear Clan, Newcomer Band, Velma was born and raised in Seminole. She attended Haskell University, where she later worked. She has also worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Seminole Nation. Since 1978, she has worked at the IHS Clinic in Wewoka. Velma is active in her church and serves as an elder and volunteer. She was Senior Ms. Seminole Nation in 2010-11.
Kenneth and Rita Coosewoon – Comanche – live near Lake Lawtonka in the Lawton area and have spent their lives helping, mentoring, and spiritually uplifting people of all races and ages, across the nation. In particular, they have served Indian people. Kenneth conducts sweatlodge ceremonies in a lodge that has been in place for over 100 years. He will help anyone who asks and is active with treatment centers and universities from Oklahoma to California. Rita is a juvenile judge for the Comanche Nation, is active in keeping the Comanche language alive and thriving, and is the matriarch of her family as a Comanche War Mother.
Barbara Kyser-Collier – Quapaw – descendant of the Beaver Clan, her career in Native American business began at the Seneca Indian School in 1968. She started working for the Quapaw Tribe in 1974, working her way up as secretary/bookkeeper, comptroller, and, eventually, tribal administrator. She has been involved with gaming and has served as secretary of the National Tribal Gaming Commissioners/Regulators and was the charter chairperson for the Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Regulators Association. Working with Lloyd Buffalo and Walter King, she developed ideas for the Quapaw tribal flag and drew the original design of the flag on cardboard.
Thomas W. Cooper – Chickasaw – a graduate of Chilocco Indian School, Mr. Cooper worked for the Chickasaw Nation for 34 years, retiring in 2005. He currently works at the Chickasaw National Medical Center where he manages the gift shop and is volunteer coordinator. He is known for his willingness to help elders in any capacity. Active in New Bethel Baptist Church in Byng, he has served as a cook at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly for approximately 30 years. A veteran, Mr. Cooper was first drafted into the Army in 1963 and served in the Army Reserve from March 1966 to July 1968. He served in the Oklahoma National Guard from 1968 until 1982, when he transferred to the Army Reserves from 1982 until 1992. He is a Desert Storm Veteran and was injured during the Gulf War in 1992.
Shirley Davilla – Wichita & Affiliated – one of the last speakers of the Wichita language, Mrs. Davilla is a respected elder having served on the Language and Cultural Committee. She currently serves as a committee person for the tribe.
Judy C. Davis – Miami – a direct descendant of tribal leader Peter Coonsoonjah Laferriere, Mrs. Davis served 20 years on the Miami Nation Business Committee and is the only person to have served as chief, second chief, secretary/treasurer and councilperson. During her tenure on the business committee, Mrs. Davis, a high school business teacher for 24 years, emphasized the education of tribal members. She continues to serve her nation as chairperson of the Education Committee, a position she has held for the past 10 years. She is a volunteer at Integris Baptist Regional Hospital in Miami, teaches Sunday School at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and is the longest-serving church clerk in the Northeast Baptist Association, having served more than 40 years.
Mary Lou Davis -- Caddo – has been an integral part of historic preservation for her Caddo people through language, art, and politics. Along with Mr. Randlett Edmonds, she started Caddo Language classes in Oklahoma City. She served on the Caddo Heritage Committee, which later became the Caddo Heritage Museum Board, of which she was also a member for many years. Mary Lou served on the Caddo Nation Tribal Council for 17 years, holding various positions such as OKC district representative, treasurer, and vice-chairman. Mary Lou studied Caddo pottery and became a Caddo potter over 20 years ago. Her pottery is displayed in various museums and she still does pottery in her studio. She is active within her community as well and served as secretary for the Red Cross Board and currently serves on the advisory board for Red Earth. She is a cancer survivor and is active with “Colon with a Cure.” She served as state president for the Native American Indian Women’s Association and has sung in her Methodist church choir since 1974.
John Daughtery, Jr. – Eastern Shawnee – active in his Tribal Culture, he is singer for Shawnee Ceremonies in White Oak and is responsible for the drum. He retired from the Indian Health Service in 2008 after 33 years of federal service including time spent as director of the Miami Indian Health Center and CEO of the Claremore Indian Hospital. At the time of his retirement, he was Area Director for the Oklahoma Area, which includes Oklahoma, Kansas and part of Texas. This is the largest Area in the Indian Health System, providing health care to over 300,000 Native Americans. He presently works part time as a Health Management Consultant for the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, where he is helping prepare for compacting the Pawhuska Health Center later this year.
Dr. Charla Dawes – Ottawa – respected tribal leader and currently serving as a councilperson on the Ottawa Business Committee. Dr. Dawes has a long family history of service to the Ottawa people and is daughter long-time Chief Charlie Dawes.
Mary Deathrage – Citizen Potawatomi – granddaughter of one of the first Citizen Potawatomi families to settle in Oklahoma, Mary is a dedicated community volunteer. After retirement, she became a “Pink Lady” at United Health Center where she currently serves as Auxiliary President and now has over 4,500 hours of volunteer service. She participates in a group that sings and ministers weekly to area nursing home residents, is a member of the Diamond K Kiwanis in Shawnee and reads weekly at the Early Childhood Center. She participated in fundraisers that resulted in the purchase of 600 books for the school so every child would have a new book to take home with them at the end of school. She has also been involved with RSVP, worked with Meals on Wheels, volunteered at the Santa Fe Depot Museum and the Oklahoma Blood Institute. Additionally, she is one of the pianists at her church. Her Potawatomi name is Mishkwelet, which means “Strong Spirited Woman.”
Thomas J. Dry – Choctaw – Indian heritage has always been an important part of Mr. Dry’s life. Realizing he needed more skills to help the Indian cause, he earned a Master’s degree in social work at the age of 54 and spent significant time researching self-determination. He was employed by the Absentee-Shawnee and Sac and Fox tribes as a child welfare director and served on boards of other Indian and state agencies. Mr. Dry promoted legislation and worked closely with other tribal members to create the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act. He is a founding member of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association and continues to work closely with state and tribal leaders.
Jerry Haney – Seminole/Muscogee – a member of the Hecete Band, Bird Clan, Mr. Haney is a full-blood. He served 14 years as Principal Chief of the Seminoles. He is a fluent Muscogee language speaker and teacher, and is also a flute maker and does stone and wood carvings and silk screening.
J.C. Elliott (High Eagle) – Cherokee and Osage – has devoted most of his life to science and the arts. He is a retired physicist from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and was the first American Indian to earn a degree in physics from the University of Oklahoma. He played a significant role in the flights of the Apollo Moon Landings and return of Apollo 13 as lead Retrofire Officer at NASA Mission Control. For his work on the Apollo 13 mission, President Richard Nixon awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr. Elliott is credited with three scientific inventions during his professional career. Additionally, he is a producer, director, composer, playwright, poet, author, entertainer and recording artist. He is also a storyteller of American Indian legends and Indian sign language. J.C. was featured soloist on the American Indian flute with the Milwaukee Symphony and in 20 performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
Emmett “Bud” Ellis – Peoria – began serving the Peoria tribe at an early age when he attended meetings of the Peoria Council with his mother. He served on the Peoria Tribal Business Committee for two terms and currently serves as chairman of the Peoria Gaming Commission, and is a member of the Election Committee. Bud has served on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation (NAGPRA) Committee since its inception in 1997, serving as Chairman between 2000 and 2009. He has traveled to locations in Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri to claim the remains of Peorias for reburial at the Peoria Tribal Cemetery. He assisted in the repatriation of Peoria artifacts totaling 40,000 items. As representative of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, he attended the opening of Dickson Mounds, events at Cahokia Mounds, and the first Pow-wow in Peoria, Illinois. Throughout the years he has served his community as a member of the Juvenile Judges Advisory Committee in Tulsa and as a member of the Elks Lodge.
Bill Glass, Jr. – Cherokee – renowned artist who has developed his own unique talents in ceramics and sculpture in a contemporary style. Bill studied under the legendary Ft. Still Apache artist Alan Houser. As a Cherokee artist, Bill primarily uses designs and variations of the Mound Builder Era, the prehistory of the Cherokee and other southeast Woodland Indian traditions. He has served the Cherokee Nation in many capacities acting as a member of several Cherokee Nation boards and was named a Cherokee National Living Treasure in 2009.
Sequoyah Guess – United Keetoowah – a full blood, he is a descendent of the original Sequoyah, who developed the Cherokee writing system. He speaks, reads and writes in the language of his people and is one of the few people who have been certified by the United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation to teach the Cherokee Language. He has been nominated twice as a Living Treasure by the Cherokee Heritage Museum and the Cherokee Nation. He has gathered and told stories shared with him from other elders of the Cherokee and Keetoowah people and holds the myths and legends of his people -- the oldest of which tells of the migration of his ancestors. He is a member of the Seven Clans of the Fire Camp Committee which holds cultural camps three times a year in an effort to teach youth the traditions and culture of the Keetoowah and Cherokee. Sequoyah is also an author, filmmaker, singer/songwriter and a cultural presenter.
Georgie Honey – Shawnee – has been involved in Shawnee Tribe government for more than two decades. She was first elected in 1986 as the treasurer of the tribe and has maintained that position for 25 years. Mrs. Honey grew up in White Oak about a mile from the Shawnee Ceremonial Grounds. She attended White Oak schools and worked for Southwestern Bell 10 years after graduating from high school. Mrs. Honey has always been active in civic activities and contributes her time to many worthy causes.
Nadean Hilliard – Seneca Cayuga – born near Wyandotte, she attended Seneca Indian School, where she later taught elementary and retired in 1979. She attended Chilocco Indian School, graduated from Grove High School and eventually earned a Master’s degree from Northeastern State Teachers College. She is a Faith Keeper for the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe and this carries a tremendous responsibility. She fulfills her position and also takes time to love and be loved by her extensive family. Although she has no biological children of her own, she has mothered and watched over a score of nephews and nieces and helped them through life. She has helped many children with their educational endeavors through loving support as well as financially. She is affectionately called “Aunt Dean” and is respected and loved by everyone who knows her.
Benedict Kawaykla – Fort Sill Apache – the last living full blood of the Fort Sill Apache, Benny is a living fountain of information of the life of the tribe. He shares the history of his people with everyone that asks him properly. He is one of a few people that speak the Fort Sill Apache Tribal language. Mr. Kawaykla is a farmer who lives on his farm north of Apache. He served 12 years in the U. S. Coast Guard, 1954 thru 1966, serving on the Mississippi River. After leaving the Coast Guard, he attended technical school and became a diesel mechanic. He worked 44 years for the International Harvester Truck Service in Oklahoma City until retirement. Mr. Kawaykla has served on the Business Committee of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe as committee member and vice-chairman. Mr. Kawaykla presently shares daily meals and activities of the Fort Sill Apache Tribal Senior Center.
Curtis Kekahbah – Kaw – works as a Traditional Councilor for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Tucson. He works in the group treatment unit involving the Substance Abuse Program. Curtis proudly served his country in the Vietnam era. He currently serves as a member of the Kaw Cultural Committee and the Kaw Language Advisory Board. He is recognized as a Spiritual Leader by the Kanza People.
John Lee Kemble – Ponca – born on the Ponca reservation, Mr. Kemble is a respected elder for pow wow singers all over the U.S. in southern pow wow singing, especially pertaining to Ponca songs. He grew up in an environment of Ponca music learned from family and tribal members. He attended school on the reservation until the eighth grade and went to Chilocco Indian Boarding school. John knows hundreds of songs and the meanings of their words. He is one of the few people who can tell the meaning and history of many songs and how to use and sing the song properly. Mr. Kemble is considered to be the expert in Ponca pow wow singing and etiquette and is sought after by people all over the country for his expertise.
Gregg Klinekole, Jr. – Apache – served on the Apache Housing Authority for two years and danced at an early age. He worked in the public school system for 22 years in the Maintenance Department. Mr. Klinekole has devoted much of his life helping children with special needs and has volunteered with Special Olympics.
Charles A. Lone Chief, Jr., - Pawnee - a member of the Skidi Band and Pumpkin Vine Clan, Mr. Lone Chief is Vice-President of the Pawnee Business Council. He also served on the Pawnee Business Council from 1993 to 1997 and from 2005 until elected as the Vice-President in 2009. He is a renowned artist specializing in portraiture. Mr. Lone Chief is a Reserve Member of the Special Forces, Tulsa Branch. He belongs to the Oklahoma Coaches Association, the Oklahoma Track Coaches Association and the National Coaches Association. Mr. Lone Chief retired from teaching in the Tulsa Public School system in 1991. He taught science and physical education and coached football, girls’ basketball, cross country and track. From 1965 to 1967, Charles played semi-pro football for the Tulsa Oilers Football team and also for the Tulsa Thunderbirds. He was selected to receive the Jim Thorpe Sports Excellence Award by the City of Tulsa and Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission in 2010. This award is in recognition of the athletic accomplishments and achievements of an individual.
Ron Parker – Chickasaw – Ron is an outstanding leader for his tribe, community, and state. He is an active contributor to the many organizations and boards with which he is associated including: the C/Sara Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of America, Ardmore Mayor’s Task Force Against Crime, Chickasaw Tribal Juvenile Justice, Ardmore Domestic Violence Task Force and Ardmore Main Street Authority. He was a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps for four years and currently serves as director on the Chickasaw Re-Entry Program. Ron was elected as Chickasaw Tribal Judge and Chickasaw Nation Tribal Legislator for two terms.
Harvey Phillip Pratt – Cheyenne & Arapaho – a forensic artist and Native American artist, who has worked for over 40 years in law enforcement, Harvey has completed thousands of composite drawings and hundreds of soft tissue postmortem reconstructions. He has assisted in thousands of arrests and hundreds of identifications of unidentified human remains throughout America. His expertise in witness description drawing, skull reconstruction, skull tracing, age progression, soft tissue postmortem drawing and restoration of photographs and videos have aided law enforcement agencies both nationally and internationally. Mr. Pratt also assists investigations though training classes and lectures at universities, colleges, schools and civic groups.
Thelma Lucile “Chincie” Ross – Chickasaw – The name Chincie was given to her by her father, Turner, who told her that “Chincie” was an Indian word for “beautiful flower”. She was raised on her parent’s ranch on their allotted lands near a town called Silver City, near the current location of Tuttle. After graduation from Haskell Institute, she went to Concho to work with the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe and later worked with the Navajo at the Fort Defiance Hospital in Window Rock, Arizona. Following World War II, she helped process young Navajos recruited by the Marines to serve as the famed Code Talkers and later was “loaned” to the Poston War Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Reservation – which was the largest of 10 interment centers that housed American citizens of Japanese descent after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1943. Today, she is a beloved member of the Tuttle community and was honored during the 2009 Tuttle High School 100th Anniversary Celebration serving as the Parade Marshall. She is engaged in her community and her tribal culture and her outlook on life is an inspiration. Chincie says, “Papa taught us that you don’t get up in the morning without thanking the good Lord for the beautiful day and the ones you love.”
Victor Roubidoux – Iowa – a member of the Bear Clan, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam where he was attached to the 101st Airborne Division and L Company Rangers 75th Infantry. In 1990, he began a 13-year stint serving as treasurer of the Iowa Tribe. When first elected to office, the Iowa Tribe’s office complex consisted of one building and administered only a few federally contracted programs. Upon his leaving office, the tribe had expanded into several businesses, many services providing programs and a campus consisting of over eight buildings and a small elderly housing area. This was accomplished not just with his leadership but also with the participation and hard work of other visionary business committee members. Mr. Roubidoux’s lasting legacy will be his work with the Iowa Tribe’s Eagle Aviary – the first and only project of its type ever funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The center currently houses 36 permanent eagle residents, most of which would have been otherwise been euthanized.
Greta Haney Ruminer – Seminole – Mrs. Ruminer is involved in the Seminole Nation “Vculvke Emetvlocpetv” or “Gathering of the Elders.” -- a group of elders whose purpose is to remain active by promotion of social activities. Greta has been instrumental in planning activities including: a choir for elders who sing hymns in the Seminole language and in English; making hand crafts for table decorations on holidays at the local older American lunch program, handmade crafts for Veterans, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day lunches and fund raising activities. It is Greta’s leadership that has kept the group active for many years. Greta and her husband, Al, are also involved in learning woodcarving and flute making. Greta has taught the elders basket making, beading and quilt making and various other types of crafts and is the group’s photographer.
Martha Spotted Bear – Osage, Kaw and Ponca Tribes – an enrolled member of the Osage Tribe, she has always served her people and is an admired member of the community. She has lived in Indian Camp in Pawhuska her entire life. She volunteered at the Indian Camp School as a PE teacher and taught for Osage Nation Head Start for 30 years. Martha was the first Indian to receive her CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential. She was also a Master Teacher and was in charge of the cultural teaching for all the centers within the Osage Tribe. She served on the executive council of the Kaw Tribe for eight years. She has also served as a committee cook for the Pawhuska District for the Osage (In-Lon-Shka) Ceremonial Dances for 12 years. She also does workshops telling children where she shares Indian stories.
Gene E. Tsatoke – Kiowa – a full blood, Gene speaks his language and continues to dance and participate in pow wows throughout the United States. He is a graduate of OU and retired from Shaklee Corporation. Gene was a single parent and raised his two sons and is now actively involved in his grandson’s upbringing. Gene is an officer with the Kiowa Gourd Clan and an advisor for the Kiowa Blackleggins Society. He is also an active member of the Kiowa Ohomah Society. Gene is a combat Veteran from the Vietnam conflict and served in 1968, which is now considered the “bloodiest year” of the entire war.
Lawrence Wahpepah/Kee-Ka-Kee-Tha-Uh – Kickapoo – was drafted by the U.S. Navy in 1943 and served until 1946. He also served in the Korean War in 1952. He is former Mayor of McLoud and served as a tribal judge of the Kickapoo Tribal Court. Mr. Wahpepah has served his tribe, the community where he grew up and his country. On May 6, 2006, the Alaskan government issued a citation to veterans of the Aleutian Campaign and doing so they saluted Mr. Lawrence Wahpepah, “a veteran of the heroic effort that defeated and expelled invading Imperial Japanese forces from Alaska on Attu and Kiska Islands under extremely adverse weather and military conditions.”
Betty War – Choctaw – worked with Indian children for over 35 years at Jones Academy in Hartshorne. She first served as a matron in the little girls’ dorm where many had wounded spirits, low or no self-esteem. She made them feel proud to be Indian and was involved in every aspect of their lives from school to church. Today, many former students still come to see, visit and help “Miss War.” A generation of men and women love her for her kindness, as a wise counselor and mentor and as their “spirit mother.”
Mary Watters – Delaware Tribe – has served on the tribal council and regularly gives back to the Indian community. She is a Delaware-Peoria-Shawnee – the granddaughter of early-day Lenape Indian settlers of the Dewey area, and William Skye who served as the Peoria Tribe Chief in 1908. Mrs. Watters retired from Phillips Petroleum Company after 30 years of service. She is a member of New Hope United Methodist Indian Church where she has served as lay leader, lay speaker and UMW local secretary for many years. She has been actively involved in the Bartlesville Indian Women's Club, where she has served as president, vice president and secretary. She performed as one of the club's first storytellers and also served as OIS storytelling chair for a number of years. Mary has been involved with the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, Delaware War Mothers Club and has served on the Deleware Tribal Council Grievance Committee, Cultural Preservation Committee, Elder Committee and Language Preservation Committee. She served as head lady dancer for the Chris Wilson Memorial Dance in Dewey in 1993 and was head lady dancer for the 1994 Delaware Pow Wow in Copan.
Richard Ray Whitman – Muscogee (Creek) – A Yuchi tribal member, Richard is an internationally acclaimed artist and photographer. His work has been exhibited at museums and galleries nationally, internationally and locally including the Artrain nationwide tour, and a solo exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. His work has been published in magazines including Native Peoples and American Indian Art, and featured in books including Aperture’s Strong Hearts and the forthcoming Visual Sovereignty. Mr. Whitman has worked as an Artist in Residence with the Oklahoma Arts Council teaching art in public and alternative schools statewide. He has taught art through the Indian Youth Council and the youth-at-risk program at the Native American Center in Oklahoma City, and has worked with youth offenders, teaching art as rehabilitative therapy as a visiting artist in several state corrections institutions. As an actor, he has appeared in movies including Sterlin Harjo’s new film “Barking Water” that premiered in 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival, “Lakota Woman,” “American Indian Graffiti” and the award-winning Oklahoma production “Four Sheets to the Wind.”
Julian Q. Whorton – Kiowa – retired from the Anadarko Public Schools in 2008 after teaching 41 years. She volunteered as a full-time teacher at Faith Christian Academy in Anadarko after learning the school had lost their teacher and was unable to find a replacement. Mrs. Whorton has shown a life-long commitment to and responsibility for the needs and welfare of others. She performs her volunteer work with care and precision. She fosters children’s learning and development and gives selflessly to make her community a better place for students to achieve their educational goals. She has made an extraordinary positive difference in education Caddo County.
Rev. Donald Eugene “Gene” Wilson – Choctaw – helped kick start a revival in the culture of the Choctaw by bringing back the traditional tribal dances and has done so much for so many in the process. Countless young people who were part of his Choctaw dance group during the 1970s credit his lasting influence on their lives.
Videll Yackeschi – Comanche – a full blood, Reverend Yackeschi is metaphorically, a rider of boats and canoes. He is one of fewer than 100 Comanche Indian translators remaining and is a Language Archivist for the Comanche Nation College. He is currently putting the final touches on a second story publication for the youngest Comanche – the children in a tribal daycare program. It will be a story with colorful illustrations by renowned artist and Quanah Parker descendant Cynthia Clay. Possibly the only full-blooded Comanche preacher in the country, he provides a quiet and gentle leadership for those in need of guidance.
Winey Yargee – Alabama Quassarte – respected elder and matriarch of the Alabama Quassarte people.