Community , Culture

Four Osages selected as 2020 AARP Indian Elder honorees

Photo caption: Four Osages were selected as 2020 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder honorees, from left: Denise Keene, Nikki Revard Lorenzo, Jerry Shaw and Sue Slinkard. Osage News

Four Osage elders were selected as 2020 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder honorees and were recognized in a virtual celebration held due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Denise Keene, Nicki Revard-Lorenzo, Jerry Shaw and Sue Slinkard are among the 41 Oklahoma Indian Elder honorees from 20 Oklahoma tribal nations who were recognized virtually at the 12th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors on Nov. 13. Each honoree was selected based on a lifetime of achievement, service and commitment to our nation, state, communities and Indian Country.

AARP Oklahoma officials decided to forgo this year’s Indian Elder Honors banquet usually held in early October at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City with the elder honorees and their guests and family members in attendance for the recognition presentations.

“2020 has been a challenging year for all of us,” AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl said in a video posted to the AARP Oklahoma website. “As this pandemic continues to create a sense of uncertainty, one thing that remains unwavering is our elders’ brilliance and resilience. Our elders connect us to our past, keep us mindfully present and inspire future generations to become better curators of communities and cultures.”

Since 2009, AARP Oklahoma has honored nearly 550 Native American elders from Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations. “Due to COVID-19 precautions, this year we are sadly unable to host an in-person celebration. However, this year during Native American Heritage Month, each of our honored elders will personally receive an AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors celebration package complete with their honoree medallion and a program that spotlights their photos and biographies,” Voskuhl said.

  • Denise Keene worked tirelessly with the Osage Nation Head Start program for more than 40 years. She devoted her life to enriching the lives of Osage youth through early childhood education. Keene began her career as a teacher. She provided early education to thousands of students and taught them about the Osage culture. She later became a coordinator for Head Start in Washington, D.C. and was named National Head Start Coordinator of the Year in 1994. Described as a “steady anchor,” Keene has positively impacted thousands of lives throughout her career, which spans more than four decades. Keene currently serves as a curriculum specialist at the WahZhaZhe Early Learning Academy.
  • Nicki Revard-Lorenzo is from the Pawhuska District. Xuh-Eh-Doin is her given name. Revard-Lorenzo graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in anthropology. She earned a Master of Education from Dominican University. Revard-Lorenzo served as a teacher, education specialist, superintendent/ principal and businesswoman working with district, county, state and federal education codes. She also served as superintendent/ principal for Pomo Tribe students. Revard-Lorenzo diligently worked to financially meet the education needs of students and upgrade the learning environment with the support of the tribal council. While in California, Revard-Lorenzo served on the Board of the Oakland-based American Indian Public Charter School, which addressed the needs of urban Indian youth. She was also a member of California Indian Education and National Indian Education Associations and served as president of the GFWC Heeko women’s service club. After returning to Oklahoma, Revard-Lorenzo served as an advocate for the Pawnee/ Osage Court Appointed Childrens Advocate (CASA) program from 2011 to 2017. In this role, she advocated for children in foster care. Revard-Lorenzo also helped manage the Osage County CASA office, which included training volunteers, preparing reports and speaking in the Osage Nation and Pawnee Nation courts. Revard-Lorenzo currently serves as chairperson for the Osage Nation Home Health Board. She is an active participant in the Osage Inlonshka ceremonial dances.
  • Jerry Shaw has spent more than 50 years as an educator of Native American history, culture and contemporary issues. Throughout the decades, Shaw worked in the public school system and as a professor at Wichita State University. He currently serves as a board member for the Osage Nation Traditional Cultural Advisors Committee, which assists the Osage Nation Historic Preservation Office with Osage culture and tradition conservation. Shaw belongs to the Grayhorse District. He served as Whipman for 12 years and Head Committeeman for 12 years.
  • Roberta Sue Slinkard grew up in Osage County, where her passion for serving others began as a child. Slinkard enjoyed cooking for all around her, including Osage tribal members and elders. After attending Northeastern State University, she returned to the Osage reservation with her husband. Slinkard began a career with the Osage Nation Title IV Program 35 years ago and currently serves as its director. Over the years, she developed the Elder Nutrition program into a highly successful entity. Slinkard is devoted to her staff and the adults served by the program. She is an advocate for all Osage members regardless of age and ensures all individuals have the needed resources to be successful.

Past Osage AARP Indian Elder honorees include:

Jerri Jean Branstetter
Anita Fields
Mary Gray-Bighorse, deceased
Charles Eugene “Chuck” Hessert
Nancy Keil
Charles Lookout, deceased
H. Mongraine Lookout
Anita Lookout-West, deceased
Capt. Richard Luttrell Sr., deceased
Sheri Mashburn
Bill Mashunkashey, deceased
Franklin McKinley
Dr. Steven Pratt
Risë Supernaw Proctor
Charles Harold Red Corn, deceased
Kathryn RedCorn
Mary Elizabeth Ricketts
Romaine Shackelford, deceased
George A. Shannon
Dr. Ron Shaw
Marvin Stepson
Cecelia Irene Tallchief
George E. Tallchief, deceased
Tim Tallchief
Julia Wilson
Rosemary Wood
Martha Spotted Bear