AARP Oklahoma opens nominations for 2020 Indian Elder Honors

01/28/2020 01:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Sharon Dawes, center, is recognized Oct. 1 at the 11th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors event held in Oklahoma City. AARP Oklahoma is now accepting nominations for its 12th annual event. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
OKLAHOMA CITY – AARP Oklahoma is accepting nominations for the 12th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors, which celebrates 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted their communities, families, tribal nations and nation. 

“The AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors recognizes the extraordinary contribution of Native American elders – many of whom are the unsung heroes of their communities,” Joe Ann Vermillion, AARP Oklahoma volunteer state president, said.

Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma’s Indian Elder Honors has recognized more than 550 elders from Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. Past honorees include teachers, veterans, artists, tribal leaders and culture preservationists. 

AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said, “This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders who exhibit a love of family, dedication to culture and respect for all people.” 

The 2020 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors is October 6 in Oklahoma City. Nomination applications are online at Nominations may be submitted electronically or mailed to AARP Oklahoma, 126 N. Bryant, Edmond, OK 73034.

Nominees must be an enrolled citizen of one of Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations, age 50 or older and be living. Nominees are selected based upon their contributions to and social impacts on their communities, tribal nations and/or country. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Nominees do not have to be AARP members to be considered. Honorees will be selected by AARP.

For information, call Mashell Sourjohn at 405-715-4474 or email The deadline for submitting nominations is 11:59 p.m. CST on April 30. 

This past Oct. 1, seven Cherokee during the 11th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The evening’s main award, the Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award, went to Cherokee actor Wes Studi, who could not attend the ceremony but sent a video message.

Studi, who has appeared in major films such as “Dances with Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo: An American Legend,” “Heat” and “Hostiles,” was born in 1947 in Nofire Hollow in Cherokee County and is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Other Cherokees honored were United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry and Cherokee Nation citizens Sharon Dawes, Calvin Rock, Curtis Snell, Charlie Soap and Ida Sue Stopp.


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