Two individuals and group honored for contributions to Cherokee Nation


Front row: (L-R) Lula Elk, Anna Sixkiller, Phyllis Edwards, Edna Jones
Back row: (L-R) Ed Fields, John Ross, Candessa Tehee, David R. Crawler, Durbin Feeling, Dennis Sixkiller

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Historical Society on Saturday honored Dr. Duane King, Stacy Leeds and the Cherokee Nation Translation Department for their contributions to the Cherokee Nation.

The awards were handed out at the SevenStar Gala, which provides an opportunity to recognize those who promote the Cherokee National Historical Society’s mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture.

The Stalwart Award is given to a Cherokee Heritage Center supporter who has served as a longtime member, volunteer, employee, board member or associate and has significantly contributed to the center’s success.

This year’s honoree, King, is the executive director of Gilcrease Museum and vice president for Museum Affairs and Thomas Gilcrease Chair at The University of Tulsa.

Prior to joining Gilcrease Museum, King has served as executive director of the Southwest Museum, as assistant director of the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of the American Indian at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, and as director of the Cherokee Heritage Center from 1982-1987.

King received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Georgia. His M.A. thesis was based on his field research of 18th Century Cherokee Sites in Tennessee, and his Ph.D. dissertation was “A Grammar and Dictionary of the Cherokee Language.” He has authored more than 100 publications on various aspects of museum studies and American Indian culture and history.

The Contemporary Achievement Award recognizes a Cherokee who is accomplished in a chosen field(s), has brought honor to the Cherokee Nation and serves as an inspiration for others.

This year’s honoree, Leeds, has served as dean and professor of law at the University of Arkansas School of Law since 2011. She holds law degrees from the University of Wisconsin (LL.M.) and the University of Tulsa (J.D.). She is also a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (B.A.) and the University of Tennessee (M.B.A.).

In Nov. 2011, Leeds was appointed to serve a two-year term on the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The commission will conclude its forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of the United State’s management of nearly $4 billion in Native American trust funds and assets in Nov. 2013. Leeds is also currently serving as chairperson of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.

Leeds is a Cherokee Nation citizen and a former justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. She divides her time between Fayetteville, Ark., and the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla.

The Tradition Bearer Award is typically presented to a Cherokee who is accomplished and recognized for achievements in preserving Cherokee traditions through crafts, history and/or storytelling. This year, the SevenStar Gala Committee felt strongly that this award should be presented to a group of individuals whose collective mission is to preserve the Cherokee language.

Accepting the SevenStar Tradition Bearer award on behalf of the CNTD are the program manager, Candessa Tehee; David Crawler, Phyllis Edwards, John Ross, Anna Sixkiller and Dennis Sixkiller, Office of Translation; Durbin Feeling, Language Technology; and Lula Elk, Ed Fields and Edna Jones, Community Language.

The award recipients create history as they canonize the Cherokee language in a number of formats, including an interactive online word list, audio dictionaries and other seminal texts. CNTD translates an enormous amount of material for the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses, schools, hospitals, the Cherokee Phoenix, the general public and a host of other institutions.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2013 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896 

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