AWARDEES

Cherokee National Holiday awardees go above and beyond in selfless ways to serve the public and our tribe. From a place of love, they lead, serve, sacrifice and create. Exemplifying Cherokee values, their legacy is part of our nation’s legacy. 

PARADE MARSHAL 

The Cherokee National Holiday Parade Marshal honor is given to an individual or individuals for professional, civic or personal accomplishments. This year, we are honored to have Dwight Birdwell as the 70th Annual Cherokee National Holiday Parade Marshal.

DWIGHT BIRDWELL

Former Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Dwight Birdwell is the first Native American to receive the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War for his heroic service. He earned the award while serving with Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Calvary, 25th Infantry Division in a battle at Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon. Birdwell is a native of the Bell community and served on the Cherokee Nation’s highest court from 1987-1999. Today, he practices law in Oklahoma City.

STATESMANSHIP AWARD

The Cherokee National Statesmanship Award is given in recognition of those who, as public servants, epitomize the servant leader ideal, exemplifying Cherokee values and acting with respect, dignity and graciousness while working for the betterment of Cherokee Nation and its citizens.

FRANKIE HARGIS

In life, Frankie Hargis’ work touched the lives of thousands of Cherokees and shaped public policy in lasting ways that have made Cherokee Nation stronger and more secure. As Cherokee Nation Registrar, Frankie demonstrated great resolve in guaranteeing the rights of our citizens. While serving as District 7 Tribal Councilor from 2011-2018, Frankie advanced work on a domestic violence shelter, a child development center, roads, bridges and an expansion of the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center.

MEDAL OF PATRIOTISM AWARD

The Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism Award is given in recognition of those who answered the call of duty, made great sacrifices and risked their lives in service to Cherokee Nation and the United States of America, tirelessly defending and promoting freedom and liberty for Cherokees and all mankind.

WINIFRED “FREDDIE” DUDLEY

In 1944, at the height of World War II, Cherokee Warrior Winifred “Freddie” Dudley, of Owasso, Oklahoma, joined the groundbreaking Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. The military of the United States had not enlisted women prior to WWII. The service Freddie and the other women in the Corps gave their country was, for the time, controversial, but proved an important step along the way to victory for America and its allies.

REX EARL STARR

As a patriot with a great love for his country and his nation, Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Rex Earl Starr proudly served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Navy Reserve for 41 years. During his service, Justice Starr was an Army Medical Service Corps officer and an aviator, earning a Master Army Aviator badge before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP INDIVIDUAL AWARD

The Cherokee National Community Leadership Individual Award is given in recognition of Cherokee Nation citizens who tirelessly have given, without hesitation, their time to make their communities more vibrant, livable places. Their example of servant leadership embodies Cherokee values and is held in high esteem by their peers for strengthening the bonds of Cherokee Nation citizens.

PATTY RILEY REEDER

A recent inductee to the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Patty Riley Reeder is the former executive editor for the Claremore Daily Progress and is the public relations director for Will Rogers Memorial museums. Patty is a founding board member of Claremore Friends of the Library, chairman of the Rogers County Board of Health, public representative for the award-winning IHS Diabetes Education Program, and assists the Share the Spirit Christmas Dinner Basket fundraiser.

LYNDON EMBERTON

The work of Cherokee achievement is the work of Lyndon Emberton, who led pilot employment and anti-poverty efforts in Cherokee Nation through the Rural Communities Initiative Foundation. Lyndon is passionate about housing, jobs and school enrollment in his immediate community. He resides in the Belfonte/Nicut Community and sits on the school board of Sequoyah Schools, the board of the Sequoyah County Water Association and Kibois Community Action.

CHEROKEE NATIONAL TREASURE AWARD

The Cherokee National Treasure Award is given in recognition of Cherokee artisans who have exhibited exceptional skill and knowledge in traditional Cherokee arts and crafts by creating unique Cherokee works through graphic art, contemporary art, music, storytelling and other art forms, as well as perpetuating and preserving the Cherokee language, embodying Cherokee values and bequeathing their knowledge to younger generations.

BARBARA ADAIR

An artist of many talents, Barbara Adair has taught basketry classes for well over twenty years. Barbara has traveled often to instruct students at family homes, rural schools and Cherokee Nation Health Centers throughout the reservation. She gathers and processes honeysuckle, buckbrush and rivercane to weave and other natural materials to dye baskets. In addition to traditional and contemporary baskets, Barbara’s other specialties include making cornhusk dolls, clay bead necklaces and twine bags.

LENA STICK

Generations of Cherokee basket weaving inspire and guide Lena Stick, renowned for her traditional buckbrush baskets. Lena’s mother, Cherokee National Treasure Maxine Stick, and siblings, each of them fluent Cherokee speakers, share a passion for basket weaving. Lena uses natural dyes, like walnut and blood root, in fashioning her baskets. She is generous with her knowledge, happily preserving this tradition by teaching groups who visit her home in Kenwood, Oklahoma.

WEYNEMA SMITH

Teaching the Cherokee language to anyone with the desire to learn is Weynema Smith’s calling, one which she has pursued relentlessly since 1954. Overcoming many challenges in helping others learn to speak and write in Cherokee, Weynema often finds inspiration in Sequoyah, remembering the opposition he faced when he first taught his syllabary. She consistently encourages others — especially youth — to learn everything they can about what it is to be Cherokee.

COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP ORGANIZATION AWARD

The Cherokee National Community Leadership Organization Award is given in recognition of Cherokee communities that have demonstrated the spirit of working together through servant leadership, applying Cherokee values to make their communities a better place for Cherokee Nation citizens.

PEOPLE COMMUNITY CENTER, INC.

The momentum that helps Cherokee communities thrive is momentum the People Community Center, Inc., of Bowlin Springs, Oklahoma, continues to demonstrate. This community, founded in the spring of 2021, rallied against local vandalism that had occurred in its community cemetery. It has undertaken an ambitious community building project — one of the largest of any Cherokee community organization in history. Its membership continues to grow and its vision inspires the many volunteers who assist in community efforts.

HULBERT CHEROKEE COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

Since its inception in 2017, the Hulbert Cherokee Community Organization (HCCO) has taken the lead in service to its community. Its nine board members and many volunteers are compassionate current and former residents of Hulbert, Oklahoma. Every other month during the pandemic, HCCO coordinated food drives that provided for more than 500 families. After the recent completion of their community building, the HCCO was able to expand its food offerings and outreach.

CHEROKEES OF PUGET SOUND

The Cherokee Community of Puget Sound (CC-PS.org), in Washington state, on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples, shares knowledge and friendship in an inclusive community of more than 60 members with a wider online outreach. Its efforts include a weekly virtual gathering, monthly book and movie group, meetings that share art, history and culture, a YouTube channel and weekly virtual Cherokee language sessions. CC-PS most recently was honored with the 2021 Cultural Perpetuation award.