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Elders Series: Mary Lenora Shannon Brave

Mary Lenora Shannon Brave was born on Dec. 26, 1935 in Tulsa, Okla. She is the daughter of Lenora Morrell Shannon Hamilton and Claude Shannon. Her maternal grandparents were Robert Morrell and Grace Penn Morrell. She has a brother, George Shannon, who is married to Elnora Supernaw Shannon and two half-brothers, Charles Shannon (deceased) and Claude Jr. She is of the Deer Clan and her Osage name is Ah-Seen-Kuh (Deer Tracks). She married Frank P. Brave (deceased) in 1954 in Ft. Bragg, N.C., while he was enlisted in the U.S. Army and after his discharge they moved to Kansas City, Mo. He was a commercial artist and a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and spent his career in commercial art in Kansas City. 

You’re a mother to six children, what was that like?

Frankie and I had six children: Julie Brave Standing Bear, David Brave, Bonnie Brave (deceased), Dina Brave Dixon, Joe Don Brave and Lenora Brave. After I moved to Hominy I went back to school at the Vo Tech in Bartlesville, Okla., and started working as a secretary for the Osage Indian Action Team in Pawhuska. I finished my career at the Osage Housing Authority in Hominy. 

What was it like growing up in Hominy?

My mother’s family is from Hominy and my grandparents, Robert and Grace Morrell, had a house a few miles west of Hominy where I spent many happy days and I have many happy memories of the time I spent there. My mother’s sisters and brothers and their families were also there much of the time. My aunts and uncles were Myrtle Morrell Unap, Della Morrell Logan, Katherine Morrell Maker, George Morrell and Preston Morrell. I have so many nieces and nephews and cousins who are all a part of my life.

Your family has had many ties to other tribes in the area, what was that like?

We celebrated all the birthdays and holidays together and camped at many of the powwows together. In those days, many Osage families had large camps at some of the powwows. We camped at Pawnee Homecoming powwow where I was the 1952 Homecoming Princess. We also camped at the Ponca Powwow and at the Anadarko Indian Fair.

Your grandfather was a Roadman for the Morrell Chapter of the Native American Church. Can you tell us about that?

Our Native American Church was at my grandfather’s house and my brother and I both slept on pallets on each side of my grandfather in those meetings. I remember very well hearing the Osage language being spoken at his house and at the various events around Hominy. My mother was very fluent in the Osage language and taught the language for many years and tapes of her speaking are used in many of the research done by the Osage Language Department. Not many attempted to learn the language until recently. I understand that we have some good teachers and I am so glad that the children are starting to learn our language again. 

What are you most proud of?

I am so blessed to have 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. I have two great-grandsons that will start dancing in the In-Lon-Schka at Hominy and Pawhuska this June. Watching my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the dances makes me happy. Our traditions are so important and I hope they will live on for many generations.

You’re a cancer survivor, can you tell us a little about that?

I battled breast cancer for 11 years and was diagnosed cancer free around 2007. My main support during that difficult time came from my family.

What do you love most about the In-Lon-Schka?

I love the Veteran’s songs, they’re really pretty. I’m a War Mother and I am a past president of the Hominy War Mothers. My son David served in the U.S. Marines and my son Joe Don went to military school. I love to hear those songs.

What makes you proud to be Osage?

Growing up, I had a wonderful life with my family, my grandfather, my aunts, they’re all a part of how I identify myself as an Osage woman. I just had a beautiful upbringing. My family, my children, they’re all so great. Our Indian ways are about respect and honoring our family and my children are a big part of that.


Shannon Shaw Duty

Original Publish Date: 2017-06-09 00:00:00


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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty is the editor of the Osage News. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a master's degree in Legal Studies, Indigenous Peoples Law from the OU College of Law. She served on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) from 2013-2016 and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee from 2017-2020. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED). In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive the Elias Boudinot Free Press Award, NAJA’s highest honor. An Osage tribal member, she and her family are from the Grayhorse District. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and six children.

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