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Revitalizing Culture: Chickasaw Language Instructor Honored

A Chickasaw language instructor was among those recognized during the Chickasaw Nation Arts and Culture Awards ceremony October 2 in Oklahoma.

A Chickasaw language instructor was among those recognized during the Chickasaw Nation Arts and Culture Awards ceremony Thursday, October 2, at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur, Oklahoma.

Virginia Alexander Bolen, a native speaker and teacher of Chickasaw language, was honored as the recipient of the 2014 Silver Feather Award, one of the highest honors given by the Chickasaw Nation.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby presented the award.

“As a nation, we are extremely fortunate to have a group of individuals who have served as a foundation for what Chickasaw language and culture are today. Ms. Bolen is one of those individuals. Her hard work has led to the education of a new generation of Chickasaw speakers,” Gov. Anoatubby said.

“She unselfishly shares her talents with her tribe with the goal of preserving and revitalizing the culture of our people. It is this giving of herself that makes her the epitome of what the Silver Feather Award is all about.”

Ms. Bolen, a long-standing member of the Chickasaw Language Committee, is a co-author of Anompilbashsha' Asilhha' Holisso: A Chickasaw Prayer Book, published in 2012 by the Chickasaw Press.

Wearing a Chickasaw traditional dress she made for the ceremony, Ms. Bolen accepted the award, thanking those who encouraged her to share the Chickasaw culture and language.

In addition to her Chickasaw Language Committee duties, Ms. Bolen is actively involved with cultural and language education at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. She uses her skills as a seamstress in recreating historic regalia for living history reenactments at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Ms. Bolen, a native of Ada, Oklahoma, is the daughter of the late Willie Alexander, an original Chickasaw enrollee, and Jane Dixon. Ms. Bolen attended school at Lula and Ada High School.

The Silver Feather Award honors Chickasaws who have committed their lives to the preservation and revitalization of Chickasaw culture, language and life ways.

Created in 1999, past recipients include: Adam Walker, Pauline Walker, Charlie Carter, Juanita Byars, Sim Greenwood, Geneva Holman, Leerene Frazier, Rose Jefferson, Stanley Smith, Marie Beck, Jerry Underwood, Catherine Pickens Willmond, Weldon Fulsom, Emma McLeod and Jerry Imotichey.