OKLAHOMA CITY – Sheri Mashburn and Mary Elizabeth Ricketts were honored at this year’s 7th Annual Indian Elder Honors for their life’s work and contributions to their tribal communities.
The AARP Oklahoma honors 50 Native American elders each year who are selected from a nomination process. This year more than 30 tribes were represented at the honors, which took place on Oct. 6 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Among the honorees were traditional speakers, veterans, environmental activists, tribal leaders, tribal attorneys, cultural and spiritual leaders, physicians and storytellers.
“The common thread among these honorees is the wisdom and impact they have had on their tribes, family and community,” said AARP Oklahoma State President Joe Ann Vermillion in a news release. “Tonight, in this place, as Oklahoma tribes and nations join together in a spirit of harmony and peace, we reflect and give thanks for the lives they have lived and the innumerable ways they have passed on their legacies to future generations.”
Sheri Mashburn (Osage) – has devoted the second chapter of her life toward giving back to her tribe and making a difference in the lives of others. After a 30-year career as a respiratory therapist in Louisiana, she returned to Oklahoma where she worked as a Cessation Specialist for the Communities of Excellence Program and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma. Over the past year, she has mastered becoming a trainer of a licensed therapy dog that she uses in stressful situations with children and elders in order to create better living conditions for her people.
Mary Elizabeth Ricketts (Osage) – during her 27-year career as Executive Director of the Osage Tribe Housing Authority she helped hundreds of Native Americans by overseeing the construction of 600 Mutual Help Homes, town house apartments, duplexes and fourplexes. She established Osage Financial Resources, Inc., a Community Development Financial Institution that makes financing available to Native Americans. She currently serves as treasurer for the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition and she also sits on the Osage Nation’s Traditional Cultural Advisors committee. She served on the Pawhuska In-Lon-Schka Committee for 30 years and served as head cook for two Drumkeepers.
According to the release, AARP Oklahoma has recognized 350 elders from all 39-federally recognized tribes and nations in Oklahoma since its inception in 2009. It is the largest gathering of its kind in the state and perhaps in the nation.
“All Oklahomans are standing on the shoulders of people like tonight’s honorees,” she said in the release. “Whether they are well known or exhibit the quiet devotion to family and community, collectively, this year’s AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honorees represent what is best about Native American people in Oklahoma: love of family, dedication to culture and respect for all people.”
Anyone interested in joining the AARP Oklahoma Inter-Tribal Community Group can send an email to: email@example.com. More information about AARP Oklahoma’s Native American outreach can be found on the AARP Oklahoma Indian Navigator website at: www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator
Original Publish Date: 2015-10-27 00:00:00