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OKLAHOMA CITY – One by one, the names and accomplishments of 50 Indian Elders were shared with an audience of more than 800 at AARP Oklahoma’s 9th Annual Indian Elder Honors celebration at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. As the distinguished elders were announced, they stood to applause and a medallion was presented to each honoree.

AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said, “This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders who have positively impacted their community, family, tribe and nation. Whether they are well known or exhibit quiet devotion to family and community, this year’s AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honorees represent what is best about Native American people: love of family, dedication to culture and respect for all people.”

During his remarks, AARP National President Eric Schneidewind said, “Tribal elders are the guardians of legacy, and younger generations are the guardians of the elders. Leaving the world a better place for our children and grandchildren has always been AARP’s goal, and I see the same values alive in each of the elders honored.”

AARP honored teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists and even a world champion arm wrestler.


Mary Rector Aitson
Cherokee Nation

Ms. Aitson is a revered Cherokee tribal elder and acclaimed weaver of traditional Cherokee basketry for more than 20 years. She grew up in her tribal clan community of Scraper Hollow, named in honor of her great, great grandfather, Captain Archibald Scraper. She graduated from Stilwell High School and earned a Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree from Northeastern Oklahoma State University. A lifelong educator, Ms. Aitson retired after teaching sixth grade for 38 years. 
Also a lifelong learner, Ms. Aitson studied basket weaving with Mavis Doerin, Thelman Forest and Eunice O’Field. She works with cultural designs and with native materials such as honeysuckle and buck brush. Her choices of natural dyes include black walnut and blood root as well as blueberries, elderberries, and pokeberries. Ms. Aitson’s acclaimed work has won awards in basketry from the Red Earth Festival, Santa Fe Indian Market, Woodward Hometown Festival Art Show, and the Cherokee Art Market. Her baskets have been in the gallery at the Southern Plains Indian Museum, Kirkpatrick Galleries at the Omniplex, Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum, and the Red Earth Gallery. Her volunteer work includes serving as the Dewey County 4-H Club leader, teaching square dancing and chairing the legislative committee for retired educators in Woodward.

She is truly a “treasure” of the Cherokee People.

Jack Austin, Sr.
Choctaw Nation

A half-blood Choctaw tribal member and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, Mr. Austin is a distinguished elder who has spent his lifetime in service to his tribe, country and community. His career in the Office of Environmental Health at Choctaw Nation was an opportunity to improve the health of Oklahomans. As the District 7 Tribal Councilman since 2001, Mr. Austin travels more than 80,000 miles each year across the Choctaw Nation to meet and care for the Choctaw people. His word is his contract, and his handshake is his seal. He has helped hundreds of people, advocated for communities in their quest for infrastructure funding and supported local law enforcement, fire departments and churches. Part of Mr. Austin’s Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions include food baskets and presents for children and elders. Mr. Austin is also a Lighthouse Cathedral board member in Clayton, Oklahoma. An Army veteran, he prefers to honor other veterans and salute their service.

Mr. Austin has built relationships that have lasted a lifetime, his values of responsibility, honor, respect and integrity is well-known to all who have met him.

David Barrett
Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Mr. Barrett’s service to the tribe has played an integral and important role in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s growth and success over the past two decades. He joined the board at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN)-owned First National Bank & Trust Company at the behest of CPN Vice-Chair Linda Capps.

Mr. Barrett was then elected to the tribe’s five-person grievance committee where he became familiar with the tribe’s governing laws and statutes. When the tribal government system adopted the current three-branch system, Barrett ran and won a seat in the Tribal Legislature. Today, he continues that service as the representative for Oklahoma’s at-large District 10 seat. Mr. Barrett is a former delegate to the National Congress of the American Indian. A Vietnam veteran, Mr. Barrett currently serves as Treasurer of the CPN Veterans Organization and is an active member of the Color Guard.

Maxine Wildcat Barnett
Yuchee (Euchee), Muscogee Creek Nation

Mrs. Barnett is considered one of the elite fluent speakers of the Euchee language, with fewer than five left in existence.

Mrs. Barnett strives to revitalize the Euchee language for future generations by serving as a teacher for the Euchee Language Program in Kellyville and to the Sapulpa Euchee Language class.
She is a lifelong member at Pickett Chapel United Methodist Church. Throughout her life, Mrs. Barnett has given her time serving in the church. She previously served as the president of the United Methodist Women and other official capacities.

Rosalie Bateman
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town

Ms. Bateman is a loyal leader to the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, where she serves on numerous tribal committees. She currently serves as the enrollment committee chairperson, where her department helps individuals determine eligibility from descendants from a base enrollee of the 1890 Creek Census Roll or 1895 Creek Payroll of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town. Ms. Bateman is committed to the preservation of tribal rolls for the many generations to come. As a cancer survivor, Ms. Bateman is considered a true warrior and has been a constant inspiration to her tribe, her family and her friends.

William “Bill” F. Tennyson Berry 
Apache Tribe

Mr. Berry is a highly decorated and respected leader in the world of softball, with a hall-of-fame career that spans both coaching and playing. In his 18 seasons coaching high school softball, he compiled more than 400 wins, and reached the state softball tournament eight times with numerous regional and district championships. Mr. Berry has also served as an assistant coach with the ASA 18U Gold Tulsa Eagles, reaching the national tournament five times. Among his numerous recognitions, Mr. Berry has been named Coach of the Year seven times by various state and national organizations including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Coach of the Year Award for Native American Youth Baseball and Softball. Mr. Berry was also selected to be the Native American All-State West Coach for the Oklahoma Native American All-State Fast Pitch Games.
In 2016, Mr. Berry was inducted into the Oklahoma High School Fast Pitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. As a player, Mr. Berry played 28 years of professional men’s fast pitch softball, earning Most Valuable Player honors five times during his career, including three such honors by the National Indian Athletic Association National Fast Pitch Tournaments. Mr. Berry earned his bachelor’s degree from Cameron University and a Master of Education degree from East Central University. He recently accepted the position of Assistant Softball Coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

Johnnie Mae Bettelyoun
Absentee Shawnee Tribe

This matriarch is an inspiration and role model because of her lifetime of serving others. Ms. Bettelyoun has worked for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma with the Elderly and Disabled Homebound Program and at Central State Hospital as a Mental Health Aide Nurse, where she cared for elders suffering from mental health issues. When she retired as a tribal elder, she began the second act of her career. This time at the age of 71, she went back to work, full-time, as the cook for the Title VI Nutrition Program for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Ten years later, this model elder is still working and serves up a smile to everyone she meets.

Jerri Jean Branstetter
Osage Nation

Ms. Branstetter served on the First Osage Nation Congress from 2006-2012. During her tenure, she was the second woman to serve as Speaker of the Congress where she worked to advance Osage sovereignty. Ms. Branstetter believes in a tribe’s ability to self-determine and has been an exemplary role model for Native youth and Native women. Ms. Branstetter also served on the Osage Government Reform Commission that helped to draft the Osage Nation’s 2006 Constitution which successfully reformed Osage tribal government. Ms. Branstetter currently serves as the chairwoman for the Osage News Editorial Board, where she provides invaluable advice on navigating the political climate of the Osage. Ms. Branstetter served as a tribal leader during her son’s tenure as a Drumkeeper for the Osage Hominy District In-Lon-Schka Dances, one of the highest cultural positions within the Osage Nation. During this period, she ensured his camp ran smoothly and that the drum was protected. She also ensured only the finest Osage meals were prepared for up to 400 people, which requires vast knowledge of Osage culture.

Gilbert Mike “Choc” Charleston
Choctaw Nation

Mr. Charleston has long been an important member of his tribe, as well as a leader in Oklahoma City business and cultural affairs. He served his country with honor during World War II at the Battle of the Bulge. Early in his career Mr. Charleston worked in the oil industry. In the 1970s, Mr. Charleston and his wife, Billie, owned the Choctaw Trading Post in Oklahoma City. The store’s authentic Indian artifacts attracted visitors such a Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Pearl Bailey. Mr. Charleston became well-known in the 1970s when the Choctaw Tribe wanted to elect its own chief and refused to accept the chief appointed by the President of the United States. A lengthy court battle ensued. Ultimately, David Gardner was elected Chief at Tuskahoma. 

Mr. Charleston’s honors are extensive, including serving on the board of directors at the 4th Oklahoma State Indian Association Annual Fair where he presented war bonnets to Generals Edwards, Lowe, and Dozier.
Mr. Charleston also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce, received the Wall of Fame Award from the Oklahoma City Better Business Bureau, and was honored at the Veterans Powwow in 2009. There are few, if any, who have done as much to serve his heritage, his family, and his country as Mr. Charleston.

Bill Davis
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Mr. Davis is recognized throughout the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for his outstanding leadership and efforts in addressing and raising awareness about Native Veterans and Native urban issues throughout Oklahoma. Mr. Davis is a decorated combat veteran from the Vietnam War. After completing his military service, Mr. Davis earned a Master of Psychology degree from the University of Oklahoma. As a licensed therapist and professional counselor, many of his clients are veterans who had returned from war service in the Middle East. 

A resident of Moore, Mr. Davis is deeply committed to the growth and well-being of Muscogee Creek Nation and the tribal-chartered Oklahoma City Muscogee (Creek) Association (OCMA). Mr. Davis serves as the vice chairman for the OCMA board of directors and is an advocate for the preservation of the cultural ways for tribal citizens in the Oklahoma City area.

Jenell Downs
Kickapoo Tribe, Pawnee, Otoe
An advocate for protecting the culture and traditions of the Kickapoo Tribe, Ms. Downs has served as an elected official to the Kickapoo Tribe, serving 14 years as tribal secretary and treasurer. Among her accomplishments, Ms. Downs assisted her tribe in becoming a self-governance tribe. She also played an intrinsic role in the Kickapoo Tribal Health Facility’s efforts to become a tribal compact health center operated under the Indian Self-Determination Act. Ms. Downs also led efforts to develop a tribal behavioral health program. Ms. Downs’ community impact extends to her work in development of the Kickapoo Gaming Commission and Kickapoo Casino, which increases revenue for various tribal programs.

A graduate of Haskell Institute, Ms. Downs worked for many years in various capacities in finance offices of many tribes, including Pawnee, Cheyenne/Arapaho, and Absentee Shawnee. She continues to be involved in Indian activism and works tirelessly for the Indigenous rights for all Native Americans.
Albert Lujan GrayEagle
Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes, Taos Pueblo

Mr. GrayEagle’s talents begin with his personal humility and humbleness as he moves easily throughout the United States as a teaching artist, award-winning performing and visual artist, noted flute maker, historian, and creative writer. He has worked with the Oklahoma Arts Council, Texas Regional Arts and Humanities, as well as many arts organizations and school districts. In 2010, Mr. GrayEagle graciously partnered with Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) for “Completing the Circle.” This newly developed program was an effort to place Native American foster children and help the healing process with knowledge and celebration through their heritage.

He volunteered and gifted over 200 handmade reed flutes and taught each child the magic and therapy in music. For his work with DHS, Mr. GrayEagle was awarded the Symphony of Service Award from the state of Oklahoma. As a U.S. Army Vietnam-era veteran, he has used his own dark memories to pull others into the light of healing. 

Mr. GrayEagle helped organize a film screening of “Native Oklahoma: Native Vietnam Veterans.” One of his most uplifting experiences as an artist was when he was able to share 2,000 of his handmade cedar flutes with U.S. troops in Afghanistan during a USO tour. Mr. GrayEagle is a living legend in the eyes of many, a tremendous gift to the community and a man truly dedicated to the positive well-being of others.

Chief A.D. Ellis
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Principal Chief A.D. Ellis led the Muscogee Creek Nation with a 20-year service in tribal government. He served on the National Council, spent four years as 2nd Chief, and served as Principal Chief from 2003 to 2011. He was appointed to serve on the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and met with President George W. Bush multiple times on behalf of the Muscogee Nation. Under his leadership, many program and buildings were built to benefit the economic development of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Notable developments and completions include The College of Muscogee Nation, medical and police buildings, a transit system and housing for the elderly, the purchase of the Historic Muscogee Nation Council House, and the completion of the River Spirit Casino. His commitment to veterans extended to the completion of the Veterans Building, which has helped countless veterans and their families over the years. He was also instrumental in increasing the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour by law, confirmed by the National Council.

Mary Ann Emarthle
Seminole Nation

Mrs. Emarthle is a remarkable and inspiring Native elder of the Seminole Nation. In 2001, Ms. Emarthle was the first woman in history to be elected to the position of assistant chief for the Seminole Nation, serving in this leadership role from 2001-2005. During her tenure as assistant chief, she was active on the Wewoka Indian Clinic Health Board and worked to ensure funding for continued care for her Seminole people. Mrs. Emarthle is a member of CEYHA Band and a member of the Deer Clan. She is a fluent speaker of the Seminole tribal language, and English is a second language for her. Mrs. Emarthle enjoys traveling to other tribes and singing the old traditional gospel songs in her native language. She is well-known for always being willing to take the time to share, teach and encourage her native people to learn their traditional ways, especially their language.

 Jim Greenfeather
Quapaw Tribe

Mr. Greenfeather serves his community as a dedicated tribal elder and mentor. As a member of the United States Army, Jim served three years as a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After leaving the Army, he enjoyed a successful 27-year career as a truck driver. After retirement in 2001, Mr. Greenfeather began a second career with the Quapaw Tribe as the maintenance department supervisor and currently works for Quapaw Tribe Housing. He has served on the Quapaw Tribe Powwow Committee in 2013-2014, and now sits on the Quapaw Tribe’s Grievance Committee. Mr. Greenfeather started the Quapaw Tribe Gourd Dancing Club in 2015. In his earlier years, he gourd danced in California, and felt that the tradition needed to be resurrected in the Quapaw area. He also spends his time mentoring students and sharing his experiences at the Chilocco and Seneca Indian boarding schools. Another avenue Mr. Greenfeather uses to reveal the beauty of the Quapaw culture and to pass along the heritage of his tribal nation is through the beautiful and unique carved feathers he makes from bovine bones.

 Woody Hansen
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee

Mr. Hanson is known as “snake man,” gaining this nickname because one of his hobbies includes hunting snakes. For many years, Mr. Hanson has used the snakes as a presentation tool to promote snake awareness, while tying in drug and alcohol prevention. Mr. Hanson travels throughout northeastern Oklahoma to teach young children at schools, summer camps, and tribal health fairs. Mr. Hanson has also served the Cherokee Nation by working as a community health representative for many years. He is also a Cherokee storyteller, and is part of the “Turtle Island Liars’ Club.” He was a contributor to the book, “Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club,” released nationwide in 2012. Mr. Hanson is an active member of Ballou Missionary Baptist Church in Locust Grove. He is also a practicing licensed minister and recently started a Bible education program in Lawton. Mr. Hanson and his wife can frequently be found giving tours of the Cherokee Village in Tahlequah or paying a visit to the natural spring waters that are close to their home.

Dianne Barker Harrold
Cherokee Nation

Ms. Harrold is committed to improving her community and lifting up those around her. In 1982, Ms. Harold helped found a domestic violence and sexual assault response program with a shelter for women in Tahlequah. Her passion to provide a voice for those in need drove her to pursue a law degree and become an attorney. She was a tribal judge and elected the first female Native American District Attorney in the State of Oklahoma. During her time as a District Attorney, she was named Oklahoma’s Outstanding District Attorney, twice. Ms. Harrold served on the advisory committee for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Victim Assistance Program and Domestic Violence Task Force and chaired the Violence Against Women Act Grant Board. She currently serves as the attorney for the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and as a resource delivery coordinator for the United Solutions Tribal Community Development Group. Ms. Harrold has received numerous accolades including the Cherokee Nation Statesmanship Award and the Bonnie Heavy Runner Advocacy Award. Additionally, she was honored by United States Attorney General Eric Holder with the 2013 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week - National Crime Victim Service Award.

Billie Ruth Hoff
Caddo Nation

A great deal of gratitude is owed to Mrs. Hoff for her love of the Caddo people. Mrs. Hoff has an unwavering commitment to preserving the way of life, culture, and language of the Caddo people and is a founding member of the Caddo Culture Club. A celebrated artist painting under the name Silver Moon II, she saw her design selected as the logo for the Caddo Nation. She also participated in forming the Caddo Constitution and Election Board Ordinance. Professionally, Mrs. Hoff worked many years at Indian Health Service hospitals as an LPN and worked diligently to help establish the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. She freely shares her extensive knowledge with younger Caddos, like her nephew, who serves on the council.

Patsy Johnson
Shawnee Tribe

Ms. Johnson is considered an influential elder member of the Shawnee Tribe and has given many years of service to her tribe.

She has attended the Shawnee Ceremonial dances in White Oak her entire life and has never missed a dance. Ms. Johnson is a member of the Green Country Billiards Association. She served as the team captain, leading the ladies’ league to a national championship. Ms. Johnson was a loyal employee with Southwestern Bell/AT&T for 41 years, retiring in 1989. She is known for an impressive 18-year span of perfect attendance during her employment.

David Keffer
Wyandotte Nation

Through his dedication to volunteerism, Mr. Keffer has impacted the lives of tribal citizen youth and served as a positive role model for generations to come. Mr. Keffer has taken pride in immersing himself in the tribal community and helping revive traditions through educating tribal citizens in making dream catchers, rawhide drums and rattles, while also providing the history and background of the crafts. The Wyandotte Nation honored Mr. Keffer in 2016 for his volunteer work in the community. Mr. Keffer retired from the hospitality industry in 2010, where he served as a director of engineering for several brand name hotel chains.

Candy Fish Klumpp
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Mrs. Klumpp is a Registered Nurse, earning her RN degree from Southern Nazarene University. She retired from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital in Oklahoma City in January 2016 after 27 years of service. In her last few years of employment, she held the title of Native American Nurse Navigator, interacting with the Native veterans and tribes to ensure the needs of Native veterans were being met. She was instrumental in helping coordinate several “Native American Stand Down Days.” These one-day events were held in different cities with large Native populations and provided services to veterans including housing, clothing, dental, and assisting with paperwork for benefits. While at the VA, Mrs. Klumpp was one of the sponsors of the VA Warriors group and helped plan and coordinate their annual powwow at the VA Hospital. Mrs. Klumpp is still active with the VA Warriors group and regularly attends meetings. She also teaches Sunday school, volunteers at Vacation Bible School, coordinates church meals, and plans and directs a Christmas program. 

Jean Ann Lambert
Quapaw Tribe

Ms. Lambert holds a deep commitment to the Quapaw Tribe’s historic preservation and heritage and has been instrumental in developing the tribe’s historic preservation plan and program.
Ms. Lambert is employed by the Quapaw Tribe as the tribal preservation coordinator. She is also very involved with the Quapaw cultural committee activities and classes. Through her work, she strives to promote, seek, maintain and retain the customs, traditions and beliefs of the Quapaw Tribe through language classes, pottery classes, Indian dice games, Native American History movies and Native American artist programs. 

Ms. Lambert supervised the Quapaw Nation’s participation in the American Indian Art, Ritual, and Social Interaction in the Central Arkansas River Valley project, a unique collaboration between members of the Arkansas Archeological Survey, graduate students in the Department of Anthropology, and members of the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw Indian Nations of Oklahoma.

 Jerry Lankford
Miami Tribe

Mr. Lankford has served his tribe since 2004 as an appointed member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Business Development Authority (MTOBDA). He has served as an appointed gaming commissioner since 2002 and chairman of the gaming commission since 2004. He has also served as a faithful attendee to the tribe’s annual meeting and all tribally-sponsored events such as the summer powwow, Myaamia Family Day, Winter Gathering, and Winter Story Telling. Mr. Lankford is a retired 25 year member of the Teamster Union. When his sons were in school, he helped coach the Seneca High School Wrestling Team. He has been given the Myaamia name “Paahpilwia,” or “One Who Jokes,” in recognition of his great sense of humor and love of his fellow man.

Jennie Anderson-Lillard
Kialegee Tribal Town

Ms. Lillard attended Jones Academy boarding school and Wetumka Public School as a youth, then continued on to earn multiple degrees in the medical field. She worked in health care at the Creek Nation Community Hospital and McAlester Regional Hospital. After earning a Master of Human Resources degree from East Central University, Ms. Lillard was employed with the Wewoka Indian Health Service, and later became a commissioned officer with the United States Public Health Service. She subsequently earned a Master of Business degree and was elected to serve as the Mekko of the Kialegee Tribal Town in 2007. 
Mekko Lillard’s experience and commitment to higher education allowed hands-on leadership and experience in the business of tribal government. She completed her term in 2009 and returned to the health care industry to serve her community. 

Upon retirement, Mekko Lillard plans to start a food sustainability and affordability agricultural project to benefit her home community of Wetumka.

Christopher Lee LittleCook
Ponca Nation

Mr. LittleCook was the first in his family to graduate from college as a personal challenge to his four young sons to show the importance of obtaining a college degree. He completed an associate’s degree from Northern Oklahoma College, a double major Bachelor of Business Administration and Human Resources from Southwestern University, and a Master of Business Administration from Cameron University with honors such as Magna Cum Laude, Valedictorian, Phi Theta Kappa-Academics, Kappa Beta Delta-Business, Wa Sabe-Ponca Black Bear, and Hethuska-Ponca Warrior Society. 

Mr. LittleCook believes it is important be active in communities, to support and bring ideas. He has been involved as a board member for the Ponca Powwow Committee, Ponca Warrior Society, Standing Bear Museum, Ponca City School Board, Ponca City Public Library Board, University Center Board, and many other organizations. Mr. LittleCook, a traditional Ponca Straight Dancer, has been honored as Headman Dancer for various Native American dances. He is often asked to be a guest speaker on Native American Culture. Mr. LittleCook serves as the director of Title VII Indian Education for the Ponca City School District. His goal is to have an impact on Native American youth, to inspire through culture, academics and lead by example with the message that it is never too late to obtain a college degree. 
Mr. LittleCook is diligent in seeking scholarships for numerous students to have the opportunity to attend college.

Ruby Nell Gibson Logan
Iowa Tribe

Ms. Logan is a proud descendent of the Ioway visionary chief leader, “No Heart of Fear.” She learned the traditional ways of her Ioway people from her grandfather, Kirwin Murray and grandmother, Alice Fawfaw Murray. Ms. Logan received her education at Red Rock, Riverside Indian School, and St. Gregory’s College. Ms. Logan spent most of her adult life making her home in Oklahoma City while working as an LPN for 20 years. She is an advocate for Indian elders, Indian sovereignty, and lends her voice to tribal issues and concerns. She also serves on the Constitutional Review Committee and the Elders group. In 2016, Ms. Logan was honored as the 2016 Iowa Elder Woman of the Year. She is involved in the traditional cultural ways, enjoys her traditional regalia and wears it as often as possible. She is also a top Hand Game guesser and an avid and lucky gamer.

Ms. Logan has one daughter, three sons and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

Evelyn McLemore
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town

Mrs. McLemore has served more than three terms on the Alabama-Quassarte Governing Committee, with a dozen years of dedicated service to the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town government. Before her tenure on the council, she also served on the Enrollment and Election board. Mrs. McLemore’s commitment to her tribe has been steadfast as she is a constant figure at meetings, pageants and celebrations and an active member at the Alabama Ceremonial Ground. She generously offers rides to the store or clinic to tribal members who need transportation and strives to plant an annual community garden for the elders. Mrs. McLemore is also an active member of the Wetumka Indian Baptist Church.
Martha “Adele” Mihesuah
Comanche Nation

Ms. Mihesuah has been an active and positive presence in the Comanche Nation for decades. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Comanche Nation Elder Council and is the Southern Plains Representative and Secretary of the Executive Board of Directors for the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA). She worked for more than 25 years as the Personnel Director for the Indian Health Service in Washington D.C., Cherokee, North Carolina., Sacramento, California and Claremore, Oklahoma. Ms. Mihesuah writes columns about elder activities for the Comanche Nation News. She represents the Comanche Nation on elder trips to the Comanche Marker Trees in Texas, the site of the battle between Comanches and buffalo hunters at Palo Duro Canyon. Ms. Mihesuah also represents her tribe at meetings in New Mexico with archeologists about Comanche rock art. This elder’s generous heart knows no bounds. When funds were low last November, she paid for Thanksgiving dinner for 70 Comanche elders. When the Elders Council did not have enough funds for Christmas gifts for elders, Ms. Mihesuah made up the difference out of her own pocket. Her family and the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma are very proud of her.

 Marcella Morton
Cherokee Nation

Ms. Morton epitomizes a strong will to overcome hardship with the passion to inspire others. Growing up in adverse conditions in rural northeastern Oklahoma taught her to persevere. She became the first in her family to attend college and was a dedicated school teacher until retirement. Now, she serves as a special counselor, helping prospective first generation college students reach their goals. 
The passing of a dear friend prompted Ms. Morton to evaluate her health. She began walking a mile each day and soon, the walking became running. With every stride, she gained companions and confidence. She became a fitness mentor and an active member of Wings, a fitness program sponsored by the Cherokee Nation. One of her proudest accomplishments was running the Boston Marathon.

Last year, at age 65, Ms. Morton completed another personal goal and ran an ultra-marathon. She completed the 50K portion of the Pumpkin Holler 100 along with “The Tribe,” her current group of running buddies. Ms. Morton doesn’t just cheer from the sidelines, she leads from the front.

Burt Patadal
Kiowa Tribe

As coordinator of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Reintegration Program, Mr. Patadal represents clients in the Health to Wellness Drug Court and the City of Shawnee Court, and he works closely with prisoners once they are released to provide training and employment services. He runs purification ceremonies and talking circles for his own clients, as well as individuals serving prison time through the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. He consults nationally with tribal elders and strongly believes that return to traditional tribal ways is often the only way to reach Indian substance abusers. Mr. Patadal is also an active participant in tribal dancing.

Charles Pratt
Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes

For more than 50 years, Mr. Pratt has been nationally and internationally recognized as a Native American Master Artist, most frequently recognized for his bronze and brass sculpture.
He has garnered innumerable awards including, “A Key To The City” in Santa Fe, twice named Artist of the Year for the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA), a Lifetime Achievement Award also from IACA, certified a “Living Treasure” at the Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonials, and was recognized as “The Honored One” at Red Earth Festival, as well as winning more than 200 award ribbons and 50 certificates of merit. Mr. Pratt’s artwork captured the attention of a collector in Germany who now has a room in his castle dedicated to displaying the art. 

In 1975, Governor David Boren commissioned a piece to be displayed at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Mr. Pratt’s sculpture survived the 1995 bombing. Today, it is displayed in honor in the offices of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. He is Cheyenne Arapaho, Sioux, and French and was born in Concho, Oklahoma to Oscar Pratt and Ann Guerrier Pratt Shadlow. This celebrated artist has three children, five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

Charles Randall
Delaware Tribe

Mr. Randall has faithfully served his tribe over the past two decades with distinction and pride. Currently, he is a member of the Tribal Council and serves as Council Secretary. He ran for the Tribal Council because he believed he could help it be more productive for his beloved Delaware and Lenape people. Prior to his election in 2016, Mr. Randall served as a Tribal Judge and spent many hours working to get tribal court and codes up to standard and served on several committees.
A dedicated servant, Mr. Randall, also volunteered many, many hours helping with the Delaware Elder Nutrition program and other elder programs.

Charles RedCorn
Osage Nation

Mr. RedCorn is a prolific and celebrated writer in representing the Osage Tribe who holds a Master of Education from Penn State University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts. 

His widely acclaimed novel, “A Pipe for February,” is a true tale of the Osage culture in the 1920s that is used in Native American Studies in universities across the United States. He received a national award for his short story “The Dam,” from Stanford University. 

Mr. RedCorn was chosen as the First Dartmouth Tribal Scholar and spent his time there writing and lecturing. He was also selected as Indian Elder in Residence for both the University of Illinois and the University of North Carolina. Mr. RedCorn also received a fellowship at the prestigious Newberry Library in Chicago and received an award from Harvard University Center for Native American Politics for his leadership and contributions in writing the Osage Nation Constitution. 

During his tenure with the State Indian Affairs Commission during the 1960s and 70s, Mr. RedCorn organized many of the first Indian Parent Education Committees for schools across Oklahoma. These committees gave parents the power to effectively participate in dispensing monies set aside for their children and to make policy changes to better serve the community. 

Mr. RedCorn’s Osage name is Wah-ni-un-tah, of the Tzi zhu Wash ta ghi, Gentle Sky Clan, where he is a name giver for his clan. A lifelong participant in the I’Lon’schka dances, Mr. RedCorn is the tribal Whip-man and treasurer.

Beverly Sue Hauser Rendel
Eastern Shawnee Tribe

Mrs. Rendel credits her parents, especially her mother, Inez Olene Pasley, an Eastern Shawnee, for positively influencing her perspective on tribal aspects and sharing farming knowledge.
Her lifelong love of the land grew as she and her husband, Mark, worked hand-in-hand farming 3,000 acres for 43 years while raising their three children. Mrs. Rendel said, “When he went to the field, I went to the field.” 

She was recently honored as one of the Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry, in collaboration with Oklahoma State University. 
She is active in her church, served on the Ottawa County Conservation District Board for 15 years, and the Eastern Shawnee Grievance Committee, as well as various advisory boards. This respected elder has contributed immensely to her tribe, Ottawa County and the state of Oklahoma.

Maricie Smith
Choctaw Nation

A retired educator, Ms. Smith is the Choctaw Nation’s 2016-2017 Outstanding Female Elder. At a very young age, she began working alongside her parents pulling cotton, cutting broomcorn, sawing logs, or whatever labor was required to feed the family.

The family moved continuously, and attending school on a regular basis was difficult. However, Ms. Smith never gave up nd graduated from high school at 21 years old. She then decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of continuing her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, later followed by a master’s degree in early childhood Education. 

Her giving heart leads her to help with fundraisers at the Choctaw Community Center in Atoka. She also finds time to volunteer at her church, sing Choctaw hymns, and grow award-winning vegetables in her garden. Ms. Smith is truly an example of faith, family and culture.

 Stanley Smith
Chickasaw Nation

Mr. Smith is a passionate preservationist and teacher of his first language, Chickasaw. One of less than 50 native speakers of Chickasaw, his knowledge and influence are invaluable. Mr. Smith spoke only his native language until entering first grade in public school. At that time, he began to learn English. He later attended Sequoyah Indian School in Tahlequah, where he and other Native youth were punished for speaking their native languages.

Today, Mr. Smith is employed by the Chickasaw Nation as Senior Language Master with the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program. He is a valued resource for the translation of works into the Chickasaw language and acts as a mentor to others who want to learn the language. Mr. Smith also collaborated in the development of the new Rosetta Stone Chickasaw language learning series. 
As a pastor and song leader at Boiling Springs United Methodist Church in Allen, Oklahoma, Mr. Smith regularly speaks to the congregation in Chickasaw, then translates it into English, and also leads in the singing of Chickasaw and Choctaw hymns. Of late, he helped translate “Misha Sipokni (The Old Ground)” by Chickasaw composer Jerod “Impichchaachaaha’ ” Tate, a 2016 oratorio commissioned by the Canterbury Voices of Oklahoma.

Franklin Dale and Rochelle Swift
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes

Mr. and Mrs. Swift embody the legacy of the Wichita and Affiliated tribes, and are both full blood citizens. They are the only living parents of a full blood Wichita tribal member, their son Clifford, who works for the tribe. Mr. and Mrs. Swift have been married 56 years and are long-time members of the Rock Springs Indian Baptist Church, where they remain active in the church and community church activities. As a devoted husband and family man, Mr. Swift is a retiree from the Hollytex Carpet Mill. Mrs. Swift is a caring and dedicated housewife and mother.

Tim Tallchief
Osage Nation

Mr. Tallchief has dedicated his life and career to the health and wellness of his tribe and the people of Oklahoma. He served as the Oklahoma State Department of Education State Director of Indian Education, and as Deputy Commissioner of Health and Administration for the Oklahoma State Department of Health until his retirement. 

Mr. Tallchief later came out of retirement to serve as Health Director for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma. He was appointed to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, where he served eight years as chairman of the board. He has served on boards and committees including the National Indian Health Board, Southern Plains Tribal Health Board, Oklahoma History Center Native Gallery Advisory Board, Chickasaw Nation Health Services Governing Board, and the Governor’s Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan. 

He currently serves as board chairman of the Osage Nation Tallgrass Economic Development. 
He has received numerous awards including the “Four Directions of Native Oklahoma” state service award for outstanding contributions in education, health and native culture, and selected by the University of Central Oklahoma as the Distinguished Alumni of the Year. He was also chosen as the 2017 Oklahoma Native American Man of the Year. 

Mr. Tallchief serves with the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Boxing Commission and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Boxing Commission as a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) and professional boxing judge and inspector. 
He also serves as Master of Ceremonies for Native American cultural events and powwows throughout the United States.

Roy Weeks Taylor
Pawnee Nation

Mr. Weeks Taylor has always been a community builder, and his impact has been felt worldwide. Mr. Weeks Taylor attended Pawnee Indian Boarding School and, later, Haskell Institute.

He enlisted in the United States Marine Corp at age 17. He was stationed at Treasure Island in San Francisco and served overseas in Korea, China and Japan until he was honorably discharged in 1953.
He and his family were moved to California as part of the government Relocation Act in the 1960s. While there, he helped support and build the Bell Gardens Indian Baptist Mission Church and supported the San Francisco Indian Baptist Church. 

A decorated veteran, Mr. Weeks Taylor supports the Pawnee Nation Veterans Club and attends the Pawnee Homecoming each July. He received the Native American Marine Corps 2012 Veteran of the Year Award, the 2015 Pawnee Veteran Elder Award from the Pawnee Travelers, and the 2015 Dreamkeeper’s Roberta Gardipe American Indian Veterans Award from the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission. 

Mr. Weeks Taylor’s professional career included employment as director of the San Francisco Indian Center, GS-13 Contract Specialist of Bureau of Indian Affairs, and wrote contracts and grants to help tribes establish themselves. He later left to work with the Cheyenne & Arapaho, Sac & Fox, and Shawnee tribes as a financial officer. 
Mr. Weeks Taylor was an elected official to Pawnee Nation as treasurer until he retired in 2012. Mr. Weeks Taylor is currently the Vice- President for the Pawnee Indian Veterans. He is active in various organizations including the Tulsa Indian Club, Greater Tulsa Indian Art Festival, Tulsa Creek Indian Community, and the All Nations Church.

 Joe T. Thornton
Cherokee Nation

A former World Champion Archer and a centurion, Mr. Thornton is a modern day warrior who excelled in his sport and continues to blaze new paths to this day. 

Born in 1916 in Adair County, Mr. Thornton went to Chilocco Indian boarding school. After graduating high school from Chilocco, Mr. Thornton entered into military service and was stationed at Fort Sill as a radio operator for three years. In 1943, after six years out of the military, he rejoined the U.S Army’s Signal Corps to help with war efforts during World War II. He was stationed in Alexandria, Virginia. within the War Department, where he ensured communications were open and reliable for the U.S. Army across the world. 
After the war, Mr. Thornton returned to Tahlequah to open a radio and television store, where he sold the first television in Cherokee Country. 

It was in Tahlequah where he found his passion for archery while borrowing a friend’s bow and entered a state archery tournament in Tulsa. He finished with accolades and went on to continually improve his technique, eventually qualifying for the USA Archery Team.

With the support of the Tulsa Archery Club’s fundraising, he was able to enter and travel to the World Championship of Archery in Oslo, Norway in 1961. At 45 years old, he won gold in Oslo, and earned the title of World Champion Archer, winning by 123 points. He went on to win silver medals in 1963 and 1965. Though he didn’t compete in the Olympics during the 1972 games, he was fundamental to getting archery established as an Olympic sport, while serving on the Board of Governors of the National Archery Association. 
Mr. Thornton says his achievements are due to, “precision, strength, steadiness, and self-control.” Mr. Thornton has been enshrined into four halls of fame. He continued to shoot in senior archery contests until he was 85 years old.

George “Chuck” Tsoodle
Kiowa Tribe

Mr. Tsoodle served many years as the Kiowa Tribe Transportation Director, where his impact work included writing funding grants for road, bridges, transit and environmental programs, and tribal transportation safety. Mr. Tsoodle saw the need to improve tribal transportation across Oklahoma and the nation. Mr. Tsoodle’s most notable contribution was the positive impact of his work in the funding and establishment of the National Tribal Safety Management System Implementation Plan and the Strategic Highway Safety Plan for Indian Lands. Mr. Tsoodle is a founding member and former chairman of the Oklahoma Tribal Transportation Council, as well as the Oklahoma Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Although retired now, he continues his consultancy in tribal transportation, is active in his community and other tribes, and enjoys taking care of his cattle.

 Jim VanDeman
Delaware Nation

Mr. VanDeman is the great, great, great grandson of Black Beaver, a highly respected chief of the early Anadarko Delaware. This gifted elder is also an accomplished artist, musician, and award-winning writer. 
He cites the Oklahoma Art Guild as an early influence and credits Southwestern State College professors Richard Taflinger and George Calver for encouraging his ongoing quest for knowledge and appreciation of art history. 

Most of Mr. VanDeman’s greatly sought-after artworks have been Expressionist Abstract in design, pushing the outside envelope of ideas about what Native American art should be. 

Very few artists ever have the opportunity to create a large legacy artwork, but Mr. VanDeman’s work may be viewed on the first floor of the Oklahoma Judicial Center building. 

During his service as Vice-Chairman on the tribal council, Mr. VanDeman found the means to provide a cultural program for the Delaware people. He credits his wife, Delores, for his art career and calls her “my number one fan and supporter.”

Tahagena “Gena” Warren
Kaw Nation

Ms. Warren, Thunder Clan, is lauded throughout the Kaw Nation as a faithful tribal steward and leader. The impact of her work is immeasurable, with such efforts as placing Kaw Nation lands into trust to provide benefits to the tribe’s citizens.

She has served in leadership capacities for the Kaw Nation Enterprise Development Authority Board, Election Board, Housing Board, and the Kaw Nation Executive Council. Ms. Warren currently serves on the tribal council and the Kaw Gaming Board of Directors and is the Kaw Enterprise Development Authority human resources director. She has also served her community as Kaw City basketball coach for both the girls’ and boys’ teams, and volunteered her time as secretary/treasurer for the Kaw City Area Sports Association and the Kaw Nation Culture Committee.

Dorcas Kent Williams
Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Ms. Williams is a member of the Otoe-Missouria (Bear Clan)/Ponca tribes (Eagle Clan) of Oklahoma. Through her father’s tribe, the Otoe-Missouria, she is a direct descendant of Chief Medicine Horse.
Through her mother’s tribe, the Poncas, she is a direct descendant of Chief White Eagle. As an accomplished costume designer and seamstress of Native American costumes and designs, Ms. Williams specializes in applique designs popular with the Otoe-Missouri tribe.

Her costumes have been worn by award-winning actors such as Wes Studi of “Dancing with Wolves” and Larry Sellers from “Dr. Quinn, “Medicine Woman.” She was also the costume mistress for “The Black Elk Speaks” production, performed at Tulsa’s historic Brady Theater.

Ms. Williams advocates for the Native American population and lives her cultural tradition through her work as cultural committee chairwoman with the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission. 

She also serves on the National Council of Aging. Ms. Williams believes in the strong value of family and her Native American heritage, and she has worked diligently to engrain the tradition as a “carrier” of her Indian history and its culture. She and her family actively attend their annual encampment “powwows” each summer. Ms. Williams has been singing traditional ceremonial songs for more than 30 years.
Dr. Diane Willis
Kiowa Tribe

Dr. Willis, a clinical psychologist, has devoted her life to the behavioral health needs of Native Americans. In 1989, Dr. Willis was appointed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. She worked with the National Strategy Workgroup and Research Committee to publish papers on the prevention of child abuse and neglect nationally. Dr. Willis has often testified before Congress and the Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences on issues related to child abuse prevention and neglect. Dr. Willis co-founded the Parents’ Assistance Center (PAC) in Oklahoma City. She continues to teach courses and conduct seminars through the OU Native American Studies Program and the psychology training program at OU Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Willis serves on committees and boards within the American Psychological Association. She’s been recognized as the first-ever Karl F. Heiser Presidential Award for Advocacy from the American Psychological Association. 

Dr. Willis is one of few women honored by the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society. She was named Indian Woman of the Year by the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women in 2000. Dr. Willis also quietly serves her community through daily acts of kindness such as paying for another elder’s utility bill without them knowing, buying groceries for families in need, or caretaking and finding a home for a hurt stray animal.

Freeland Wood
Sac & Fox Nation

Mr. Wood is the epitome of a servant leader. He has lived his life in service to others in the Shawnee community. If you ask someone if they know Mr. Wood, they will respond with an emphatic “yes,” and, most likely follow their response with a story of how their life was changed or impacted by Mr. Wood.
He has been a police officer in Shawnee for more than 30 years. He delayed promotion for 18 of those years while patrolling the halls of Shawnee High School, protecting the children of Shawnee. Mr. Wood is now a Lieutenant and nearing retirement. 

In addition to protecting and serving the people of Shawnee, he is also a husband, father, and grandfather. Mr. Wood is an avid hunter and lover of the great outdoors.
Rosemary Wood
Osage Nation

Ms. Wood’s contribution to the Osage Nation is widely felt from her tribal leadership, as well as her commitment to health and wellness. Ms. Wood graduated from St. John Hospital School of Nursing in 1963, the University of Oklahoma in 1965, and from Rutgers University in 1971 with a Master of Science in Psychiatric Nursing. She and her partner founded the American Indian Alaska Native Nurse’s Association (AINNA). 

Ms. Wood was the first American Indian to hold the position of Chief of the Nursing Branch for the Indian Health Service. She later became special assistant to the Indian Health Service director. She also served as nursing educator for the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing and worked as a staff psychiatric nurse specialist at Norman’s Central State Hospital. 
As a part of her commitment to health and wellness, Ms. Wood led efforts to establish a fitness center for the Osage Nation. 

Ms. Wood served on the 29th and 30th Osage Tribal Councils from 1994-2002. She is the first woman in Osage history to run for the office of Principal Chief. 
Ms. Wood lives on originally allotted Osage tribal land and raises white face Hereford cattle with her nephew.

Francine Worthington
Kiowa Tribe

Ms. Worthington’s given name is “pe’al thau do’ah,” which translates to “Walks as She Thinks.” 
As an advocate for Native American veterans and all veterans, she has been honored with the 2008 VFW Auxiliary National Veterans of Foreign Wars Community Service Award. 

She’s been honored with the State of Oklahoma Governor’s Leadership Blue Ribbon Award, five State of Oklahoma Governor’s Commendations for Meritorious Public Service Work, and the 2013 National Tribal Employment Rights Director of the Year. 

Ms. Worthington helped thousands of Oklahomans find jobs and job training through the state’s Unemployment Service. 

She was selected by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to assist Oklahoma tribes in implementing the Federal Workforce Investment Act. 

In her role as a U.S. Department of Labor Native American Equal Employment Opportunity Diversity Native American Officer, she protected the Employment Rights of Native American workers nationally and wrote a Congressional report on better Native American Veteran Employment Service implementation in Indian Country. 

She serves as a Head Lady Dancer at powwows and teaches girls proper etiquette for the Southern Plains style dance. She is an acclaimed seamstress and designs traditional Women’s Southern cloth dresses, Men’s Straight Dance regalia, Jingle dresses, and Caddo dresses. She designs chokers and breastplates to ensure cultural provenance and authenticity. These designs have been on exhibit and featured in the Oklahoma Red Earth Celebration.

Cynthia Yerby
Seminole Nation

Mrs. Yerby is a retired educator and senior counselor who worked at Seminole State College for 35 years. 
She holds an Associate of Science, Bachelor of Art in Counseling and Master of Science in Human Resource Counseling. 

She was inducted into the Seminole State Hall of Fame in 2016. 

She has turned her love of sewing into an endeavor to preserve and promote the Seminole Patchwork and she is the trusted source of many tribes for their sewing needs of tribal wear. 

Mrs. Yerby has held many positions within the Seminole Tribe, including Gaming commissioner, Appeals board member, Education committee member, Princess committee, Boys and Girls program board member, and Native American Farmers and Ranchers board member. 

She was the Tribal Princess 1971-72 and 1973-74. 

Mrs. Yerby was a member of the USA arm wrestling team and is a 10-time world champion arm wrestler, 11-time USA national champion and a state champion in 31 states. She retired as one of the most successful women arm wrestlers of all time and is in the New York Arm Wrestling Hall of Fame. 
She is devoted to ensuring the children learn the ways and language of their tribe.

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