AARP Oklahoma Honors 41 Native American Elders during 12th Annual Indian Elder Honors Celebration

Posted on 11/13/20

IEH 2020 Thumbnail.PNG
2020 Indian Elder Honors Virtual Celebration

VIEW THE 2020 INDIAN ELDER HONORS PROGRAM WITH RECIPIENTS' PICTURES AND BIOGRAPHIES

41 Native American elders from 20 Oklahoma tribal nations were recognized, virtually, at the 12th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors Friday, November 13, 2020. Each honoree was selected based on a lifetime of achievement, service and commitment to our nation, state, communities and Indian Country. Since 2009, AARP Oklahoma has honored 550 Native American elders from Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations.

AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl hosted the virtual event. Voskuhl said, “The elders connect and ground us to our past, keep us mindfully present and inspire future generations to become better curators of communities and cultures.”

“As this pandemic continues to create a sense of uncertainty, one thing that remains unwavering is our elders’ brilliance and resilience,” said AARP Oklahoma State President Joe Ann Vermillion. “For some, their service is well-known and well-documented, but others shy away from recognition as they quietly exhibit devotion to their communities.”

VIEW THE 2020 INDIAN ELDER HONORS PROGRAM WITH RECIPIENTS' PICTURES AND BIOGRAPHIES

AARP Oklahoma honored teachers, veterans, artists, tribal leaders, culture preservationists and everyday heroes. This year’s honorees include:

  • Wynona Coon, Absentee Shawnee Tribe, successfully advocates for improved tribal housing, education, transportation, meals for the elderly and health care services. 
  • Phillip Cross, Caddo Nation, is a lifelong learner, teacher and artist. This respected elder is a master bow maker and the architect of a Caddo 25-foot grass thatch home.
  • JoKay Dowell, Quapaw, is both an accomplished reporter and activist. She lends her voice to fight for Indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, anti-war actions and environmental protection.
  • Juanita Pahdopony, Comanche Nation, is a college professor and dean whose expertise is sought after within the education and entertainment fields. As a technical advisor for television shows, she ensures indigenous cultures and traditions have an accurate representation, voice and presence.
  • Danny Tiger, Seminole Nation, bravely served his country for 26 years with tours in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraq. One unit was featured in “Warrior Tradition,” a PBS documentary, which shares the largely untold story of Native Americans in the United States military.

    AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director of Outreach Mashell Sourjohn explained that honoring the native elders during Native American Heritage Month is especially meaningful. “As we pay tribute to the rich ancestry of Native American elders, we celebrate their importance to our past, our present, and our future.” Also, this year, AARP Oklahoma created a special honoree celebration box for honorees. Contents include the 2020 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors medallion, programs, a gift card, sweet grass braid and additional gifts. 

VIEW THE 2020 INDIAN ELDER HONORS PROGRAM WITH RECIPIENTS' PICTURES AND BIOGRAPHIES

This story is provided by AARP Oklahoma. Visit the AARP Oklahoma page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

More from AARP in Oklahoma City

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Oklahoma City
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW