On Thursday, December 11, 2014 the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma held its annual Tribal Community Christmas Dinner at the Wewoka Civic Center in downtown Wewoka. The dinner fed a record number of 1,554 people from the community, and tribal employees and volunteers handed out every gift stocking.
The event was a combined effort of many Seminole Nation employees, Seminole Nation council representatives and volunteers, who made the event a huge success. The Seminole Nation Pumvhakv Language Immersion School sang a few Christmas songs in the Mvskoke language, and the Seminole Nation Princesses performed sign language to O’ Holy Night.
Tribal and community members were served a meal of ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and rolls. Tribal employees provided desserts, and there were plenty of pies, cakes and cookies.
Tribal employees, council representatives and volunteers helped cook, clean, carry out trash and give out gifts to children.
This year, the dinner hours were from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to help alleviate the strain of peak dinner hours. The steady crowds filled the Civic Center throughout the evening.
This was the first year for Seminole Nation Director of Veterans Services Galen Greenwalt to dress up as Santa Claus to greet children and listen to their Christmas wishes.
“It was great to see the smiling faces of kids and smiling faces on adults,” said Greenwalt. “It was a special time.”
In addition to the candy canes and coloring books that were handed out by Santa Claus, children also received a stocking filled with gifts.
The Wewoka Indian Health Services Clinic set up a booth at the Civic Center and offered free flu vaccinations to the public.
Pumvhakv Open House
Tribal employee compete in Head Start holiday toy drive
In order to make the holiday season a little brighter for local children, the Seminole Nation Employee Events Team organized a toy drive in November and December.
Tribal employees created teams of “Santa’s Helpers” and competed to donate the greatest number of toys. Team SNOMO$ earned a pizza party as the winning employee team. They donated a total of 203 toys.
All toys were unwrapped and cost less than $20. They were suitable for boys and girls, newborns to age 14. Cash donations were also accepted.
Over 900 toys were donated in total. The toys were then distributed to the Seminole Nation Head Start and Early Head Start programs, Indian Child Welfare foster care and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma’s Women’s Shelter.
On Saturday, November 22, 2014 the Seminole Nation Veterans Cemetery Dedication was held at the Mekusukey Mission in Seminole.
Seminole Nation Principal Chief Leonard M. Harjo gave the introduction and proceeded with the short version of the dedication due to inclement weather. The dedication began with the posting of the American flag by the Seminole Nation Honor Guard. Following the posting of the colors, Seminole Nation tribal members Walter Factor and Dorsey Nero sang a song and gave the invocation.
Former Assistant Chief Mary Ann Emarthle sang the National Anthem in the Mvskoke language.
Seminole Nation Assistant Chief Lewis Johnson gave his reflection and said, “It is a day of celebration because of the task that was set before the past and present leadership of the Seminole Nation, including the Seminole Nation General Council, Executive Department, Seminole Nation Cemetery Committee, Seminole Nation Veterans Committee, the distinctive tribal departments, contractors and architects who committed so much time and effort in executing their plans throughout the course of this project.”
“Because of the contributions of many, the dream has become reality. Together we can continue to honor the Veterans and their families with a final resting place specially designated for the brave and courageous men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America. May the Seminole Nation Veterans Cemetery Memorial be a lasting tribute that commemorates their service and sacrifice to this Nation,” Assistant Chief Johnson added.
The Seminole Nation Honor Guard gave a 21 gun salute, with Taps played by Scott Harjo. Dorsey Nero gave the prayer and benediction.
A luncheon followed the ceremony at the Seminole Nation Grisso Mansion.
The builders on this project were One Architecture, LLC and Builders Unlimited.