One by one, the names and accomplishments of 50 Indian Elders were shared with an audience of more than 800 at AARP Oklahoma’s 9th Annual Indian Elder Honors celebration at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. As the distinguished honorees were announced, they stood to applause, and a medallion was presented to each honoree.

AARP State Director Sean Voskuhl said, “This event celebrates a lifetime of service from these distinguished elders who have positively impacted their community, family, tribe and nation. Whether they are well-known or exhibit quiet devotion to family and community, this year’s AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder honorees represent what is best about Native American people: love of family, dedication to culture and respect for all people.”

During his remarks, AARP National President Eric Schneidewind said, “Tribal elders are the guardians of legacy, and younger generations are the guardians of the elders. Leaving the world a better place for our children and grandchildren has always been AARP’s goal, and I see the same values alive in each of the elders honored.”

Among the honorees was Shawnee police officer Freeland Wood, who has lived his life in service to others for three decades. Wood represents the Sac & Fox Nation.

Also honored was a Cynthia Yerby of the Seminole Nation, a 10-time world champion arm wrestler, 11-time USA national champion and inductee to he New York Arm Wrestling Hall of Fame.

AARP honored teachers, veterans, nurses, artists, tribal leaders, language and culture preservationists, and even a champion archer and a champion arm wrestler. Among this year’s 50 Indian Elder Honorees from 33 Oklahoma tribes and nations were: