OKLAHOMA CITY – Three Osage Nation elders were recognized this year at the 14th annual AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honors at the First Americans Museum.
Margo Gray, John Henry Mashunkashey and Judith “Judy” Tiger are among the 2022 honorees who attended the Nov. 9 honorees ceremony with their respective families and friends. This year, AARP Oklahoma honored 40 Native American elders from 20 Oklahoma tribal nations for their achievements, community service and impact.
This is the first in-person Native American Elder Honors ceremony held in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AARP Oklahoma honored elders in virtual ceremonies in 2020 and 2021 and mailed medallions to the honorees as part of precautionary measures. It is also the first time AARP Oklahoma has hosted the honors ceremony at FAM, which opened in September 2021.
AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl welcomed the 300-plus attendees to the ceremony held in FAM’s The Hall of The People that afternoon. Dr. Steven Pratt, a 2012 AARP Oklahoma Native American Elder Honoree, delivered the ceremony invocation in the Osage language.
“Whether they are well-known or exhibit quiet devotion to family and community, all of our honorees represent what’s really important – dedication to family, culture and respect for all. Today more than ever, and I think we can all agree, we can all use a little more of that,” Voskuhl said.
Mashell Sourjohn, AARP Oklahoma Associate State Director and a Muscogee Creek citizen, said the annual event is an opportunity to “honor Native Americans from our 39 tribal nations for their contributions and accomplishments throughout Indian Country and for their contributions to their state, community or nation. This year we had 39 honorees from 20 of our tribal nations (plus the 2021 Dr. John and Tewanna Edwards Leadership Award recipient who was Chickasaw Nation citizen Tewanna Edwards herself).”
Sourjohn also acknowledged the venue change this year from prior ceremonies held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. “We’re super excited to be able to host it here. We look forward to this event throughout the year and just being able to hear all our honored stories underneath one roof – It fills your soul. It’s a true honor for us to honor our elders,” she said.
2022 Honorees and bios
Margo Gray served from 2018 to 2022 on the Osage Minerals Council and her biography reads: (Gray) is a proud businesswoman and the president of Margo Gray and Associates. Ms. Gray received her education at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business in Hanover, N.H. Her background includes many years in tribal law enforcement and tribal government services. In addition to many state and local activities, she currently serves as a board member for the American Indian Business Network and the National Indian Gaming Association. She is also an active member of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations. Gray has spoken at numerous conferences across the U.S. and advocated for Native American businesses.
Gray’s leadership and determination have earned her numerous prestigious honors and awards, including The Journal Record’s “50 Making a Difference,” which recognizes Oklahoma’s leading women. Gray also received the Badger Ward for Tenacity and Perseverance in Business from the American Indian Business Leaders Association, as well as the Georgeann Robinson Humanitarian Award presented by the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women. She has been featured on the workingwomen.com website and in the book, “Smart Women Take Risks.”
Gray’s flagship company, Horizon Engineering Services, was the 2004 recipient of the National Indian Business Association’s Outstanding National Native American Women-Owned Business Award. Gray and Horizon Engineering Services earned the 2005 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Indian Business Owner of the Year award and the 2007 State Business of the Year Award from the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma.
Gray (Pawhuska District) is active in her Osage culture and holds the position of head cook at the Jenny Gray Chapter of the Native American Church, a high honor for a woman in her Osage culture.
John Henry Mashunkashey, an Osage (Pawhuska District) elder and Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, has demonstrated his commitment and service to the Osage Nation and the United States throughout his lifetime. As a member of the Wa-Xa-Ko-Li’n District, he became the Drumkeeper in 1972. Mashunkashey has served on the Pawhuska Committee for many drumkeepers since and is currently an advisor for the current drumkeeper. He also served a four-year elected term (2006-2010) for the Osage Minerals Council.
Mashunkashey is a recipient of the U.S. Marine Corps Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice during the Vietnam War. He has been recognized as “Veteran of the Week” at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Mashunkashey was the past commandant of the Department of Oklahoma Marine Corps League. He currently serves as the commandant of the MCL Osage Detachment 669 and commander of the Harold Bigheart Smalley American Legion Post 198. Mashunkashey is also an Osage Nation Veterans Memorial Commission member and was part of the planning efforts for the award-winning Veterans Memorial in Pawhuska.
Judith “Judy” Mary Tiger belongs to the Grayhorse District of the Osage Nation. Her Osage name is Mah-Zeh Sah-Ke (Strong Metal) and she is of the Eagle Clan. Tiger attended Chilocco Indian School. She was the head clarinet player for the band and served as president of the Wampum Indian Club. She was also the Chilocco Indian School Princess. She met the love of her life, the late Jim Tiger, while attending Chilocco.
Tiger and her family settled in Fairfax and began their lives on the ranch, which began her lifelong love for rodeo. She is known in the Grayhorse community for her kindness and giving spirit. Tiger has served as a committee cook for the Grayhorse Inlonshka committee. Tiger is also an accomplished seamstress and enjoys ribbonwork.
Past Osage AARP Indian Elder honorees include:
Jerri Jean Branstetter
Mary Gray-Bighorse, deceased
Charles Eugene “Chuck” Hessert
Charles Lookout, deceased
H. Mongraine Lookout
Anita Lookout-West, deceased
Capt. Richard Luttrell Sr., deceased
Bill Mashunkashey, deceased
Cmdr. James Norris
Dr. Steven Pratt
Charles Harold Red Corn, deceased
Mary Elizabeth Ricketts
Romaine Shackelford, deceased
George A. Shannon
Jerry Shaw, deceased
Dr. Ronald Blaine Shaw, deceased
Roberta Sue Slinkard
Martha Spotted Bear
Marvin Stepson Jr.
Cecelia Irene Tallchief
George E. Tallchief, deceased
Tim Tall Chief