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Chickasaw Nation presents arts and culture awards, releases five new books

Mary Ruth Barnes Named 2015 Dynamic Woman of the Year


Dynamic Woman: Chickasaw artist Mary Ruth Barnes, center, was named 2015 Dynamic Woman of the Year during the Chickasaw Nation Arts and Culture Awards ceremony Oct. 1 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Presenting Mrs. Barnes her award is Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, left, and Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel. Photo by Marcy A. Gray.

A Chickasaw artist and author, a native speaker of the Chickasaw language, a historic preservationist and Southeastern artists were among those recognized during the Chickasaw Nation Arts and Culture Award ceremony Oct. 1 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur, Okla.

Mary Ruth Barnes, a Chickasaw artist and author, was named the 2015 Dynamic Woman of the Year by Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby.

Mrs. Barnes is an editor, published author, photographer, award-winning artist and avid equestrian. Since 2012, she raised has raised more than $10 million in estate gifts for cancer research through her role as American Cancer Society Director of Planned Giving for Oklahoma and southwest Missouri. For these efforts, Mrs. Barnes was awarded "Top Performer of the Nation" for the American Cancer Society in 2012 and 2014.

"Like so many past recipients of this award, Mrs. Barnes is driven, involved and committed to improving the communities in which she lives and works," said Gov. Anoatubby.

"We are proud of the way that Mrs. Barnes has represented Chickasaw people within the community and demonstrated the Chickasaw way of being involved and playing a strong role in your community."

Extremely active in her community through the Ada Chamber of Commerce and Ada Rotary, she was past president of Ada's Business and Professional Women, where she received BPW's Women of the Year Award in 2006. Mrs. Barnes has served on her church board, Rotary board, taught Sunday school, served on the Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America and the Ada Arts Council executive board.

A visual artist, Mrs. Barnes has received several awards for her art.

She has a bachelor's in English from North Carolina State and a master's degree in education from Montana State.

Mrs. Barnes and her husband Mike have been married 40 years and have two children, Wiley and Selby, who both serve the Chickasaw Nation. She and her husband welcome visitors to their horse ranch for lessons on natural horsemanship.

Mrs. Barnes credited her family and the people of the Chickasaw Nation for obtaining the Dynamic Woman award and described the designation as a privilege and a blessing.

"I carry this honor because my beautiful mother, Ruby Scott taught me that I should always walk the Chickasaw way and to walk those Chickasaw trails and remember the past and remember the beautiful things her father taught her and that she taught me."

Mrs. Barnes also honored her grandfather who taught her the importance of an education and hard work. She noted her most privileged honor is her beautiful family.

Established in 2006, the Dynamic Woman of the Year Award honors Chickasaw women who have made significant contributions to the Chickasaw Nation, serve as role-models to other Chickasaw women and have made a difference in the lives of Chickasaws and other citizens, enriching their communities and society at large.

Native Chickasaw speaker Sam Johnson was the winner of prestigious 2015 Silver Feather Award.

"As a nation, we are very fortunate to have a group of individuals who have served as a foundation for what Chickasaw language and culture are today. Sam Johnson is one of those individuals, said Gov. Anoatubby. "Sam is a valuable asset to our tribe and is a bridge between our citizens and the rich heritage of the Chickasaw people."

A Chickasaw citizen, native speaker and traditionalist, Sam Johnson is a long-standing member of the Chickasaw Language Committee. He has long been a proponent of language revitalization, assisting the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program in its efforts to document the speech and conversations of the last generations of native speakers. Mr. Johnson is a co-author of Anompibashsha Asilhha' Holisso: A Chickasaw Prayer Book.

He is also a traditional cook of some renown, annually cooking pishofa for large events including Chikasha Ittafama, the Chickasaw reunion

"It is this knowledge, and most importantly, the sharing of this knowledge that makes him the epitome of what the Silver Feather Award is all about. "Thank you, Sam, for sharing such an important legacy," Gov. Anoatubby said.

Mr. Johnson accepted his award, one of the highest honors given by the Chickasaw Nation, in the Chickasaw language and then translated to English. "I am glad that every one of my friends and family gathered together. I like to see the people gathered in harmony as Chickasaws. I thank each and every one of you here." Mr. Johnson encouraged everyone in the crowd to learn more about Chickasaw heritage.

Created in 1999, the Silver Feather Award honors Chickasaws who have committed their lives to the preservation and revitalization of Chickasaw culture, language and life ways. Past recipients include the following individuals: Adam Walker, Pauline Walker, Charlie Carter, Juanita Byars, Sim Greenwood, Geneva Holman, Leerene Frazier, Rose Jefferson, Stanley Smith, Marie Beck, Jerry Underwood, Catherine Pickens Willmond, Weldon Fulsom, Emma McLeod, Jerry Imotichey and Virginia Alexander Bolen.

The 2015 Friend of the Chickasaw Award was presented to Mitch Caver. A Baldwyn, Mississippi, resident, Mr. Caver has been researching Chickasaw history and sharing his findings with the Chickasaw Nation.

"Mitch continues to follow his passion and lend his knowledge and professional skills to assist the Chickasaw Nation in bringing our story to life for our citizens and for all to experience, learn and share this rich tribal history," said Gov. Anoatubby.

A branch director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Tupelo, Mr. Caver has been instrumental in discovering artifacts and significant documentation of Chickasaws in the Homelands and sharing that information with the Chickasaw Nation.

Instrumental in locating the home site of revered leader Tishominko', Mr. Caver worked with the Chickasaw Nation and Mississippi to support the installation of a monument near the site.

His discovery of an entry in John Quincy Adams' diary detailing a meeting between President George Washington and Piominko' is now a part of the historical interpretation of the President's House in Philadelphia, a national landmark.

Discovering vintage 1820s letters relating to the Chickasaw Presbyterian missionary school, Charity Hall, he identified a class roster with names of prominent early tribal members. Those letters are now part of the Chickasaw Nation collection.

In 2015, Mr. Caver also assisted in identifying the 1793 George Washington Peace Medal, now displayed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, as most likely one given to Piominko', one of the most pivotal and instrumental leaders in Chickasaw history.

The Friend of the Chickasaw award is presented to individuals or organizations by the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation to an individual who has provided outstanding support to the Chickasaw people. Governor Bill Anoatubby designated, in the early 1900s, the award be given as a way to recognize those who are not Chickasaw, but who understand the importance of Chickasaw people and their culture, and the mutual respect and appreciation shared in efforts to enhance the lives of Chickasaw citizens and all their neighbors.

The Friend of the Chickasaw award is presented in special recognition of their outstanding contribution through partnerships and collaborations that have a positive, meaningful impact on the lives of Chickasaw people, and that help preserve the culture, heritage and values of the Chickasaw Nation.

Mr. Kennedy Brown and Mrs. Pauline Brown were honored with a Chickasaw Historical Society Lifetime Service award. Mr. Brown was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Chickasaw Historical Society in 1994. He is a former Lieutenant Governor and special assistant to Gov. Bill Anoatubby. He has also served on the board of directors for numerous community organizations.

Mrs. Brown has served on the Chickasaw Historical Society Board since 1994. She also serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee, the Chickasaw Elder's Council and the Chickasaw Election Commission.

White Dog Press Awards – Ikbi (to create) Award for best full-length fiction manuscript was awarded to Anthony Perry for Choola's Tale.

Mr. Perry is a Chickasaw citizen and Oklahoma native who lives in England with his wife and their two children. A health care research analyst, Mr. Perry has a master's degree in public health and health services management from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a master's degree in public policy and management from Birkbeck College, UK) and an undergraduate degree in comparative religion from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

Awards were also presented to winners of the Southeastern Art Show and Market.

The top winners in each category were:

Best in Show – Troy Jackson

Best in Division, Cultural – Kristie Vann

Best in Division, 3D art – Daniel Worcester

Best in Division, 2D art – Brenda Kingery

Southeastern Art Show and Market is open to all artists of Southeast and Woodlands tribes. The winning artworks, as well as works from more than 85 participating artists were showcased Friday - Saturday, Oct. 2-3, at Chickasaw Nation Capitol grounds during the 2015 Annual Meeting and Festival.

Also during the awards ceremony new Chickasaw Press and White Dog Press publications were released.

Silver Feather: Sam Johnson, an active member of the Chickasaw Language Committee, received the prestigious Silver Feather Award. Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, right, and Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel presented the award Oct. 1 during the Chickasaw Nation Arts and Culture Awards ceremony at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Photo by Marcy A. Gray.

Chickasaw Press unveiled four titles, including a hardcover edition of Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller, American Treasure and Chokma'si: The Beauty of the Chickasaw Nation, a photography art book featuring landmarks, landscapes, and artifacts from across the Chickasaw Nation.

Two Chickasaw language dictionaries were released. A hardcover reprinting of A Chickasaw Dictionary, compiled by Jesse Humes and Vinnie May (James) Humes, and the new A Concise Chickasaw Dictionary, which features the spelling system used by the Humes' in A Chickasaw Dictionary side-by-side with the Munro-Willmond spelling system used in Chickasaw: An Analytical Dictionary. This marks the first time both orthographies have appeared together in one volume.

White Dog Press released its first creative non-fiction title, Wenonah's Story: A Memoir of a Chickasaw Family, and a new cookbook of family-friendly recipes, ilittibaaimpa': Let's Eat Together! A Chickasaw Cookbook.

For more information on the books and other Chickasaw Press publications, please visit


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