AARP Oklahoma accepting nominations for 2021 Indian Elder Honorees

AARP Oklahoma is now accepting nominations for the 13th annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors, which celebrates 50 Native American elders who have positively impacted the country, state and/ or Indian Country.

Since its inception in 2009, AARP Oklahoma’s Indian Elder Honors has recognized nearly 600 elders from Oklahoma’s 39 tribal nations, according to the nonprofit.

In a statement, AARP Oklahoma state director Sean 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.”

Past honorees include educators, healthcare providers, military veterans, attorneys, business professionals, artists, tribal leaders, and history, language and culture preservationists.

The deadline for submitting 2021 Indian elder nominations is March 31. Selected honorees will be announced in fall 2021.

“Regardless what we experience today, one unwavering constant is our elders’ brilliance and resilience,” AARP Oklahoma state president Joe Ann Vermillion said in a statement. “For some, their service is well-known and well-documented, but others shy away from recognition as they quietly exhibit devotion to their communities.”

In 2020, AARP Oklahoma selected 41 Native elders from across Oklahoma, including four Osages who were recognized virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Each elder honoree received an honor medallion via mail due to the 2020 in-person honor ceremony cancelation.

Indian elder honoree nomination applications are available online at 

Nominees must be an enrolled member of one of Oklahoma’s 39 federally-recognized tribal nations, age 50 or greater and must be living. “Nominees are selected based upon their contribution to and social impact on their community, tribal nation, and/or country,” according to AARP Oklahoma. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Nominees do not have to be AARP members to be considered. Honorees will be selected by AARP.

For more information or to request a mail-in nomination form, contact Mashell Sourjohn at (405) 715-4474 or email her at

According to its website, AARP is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization “that empowers people to choose how they live as they age.” For more information on AARP services and resources, visit and select your respective state from the list.