A Chickasaw woman and a Native American scientist received top honors from the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, recently.
Nicole Schultz Walls, a Chickasaw citizen, was named American Indian Woman of the Year by the OFIW and Dr. Kent Smith, received the Alice Timmons Founders Award from the group during a May 3 ceremony conducted in Newkirk.
The American Indian Woman of the Year award is given to an outstanding American Indian woman who has devoted exceptional time and effort to the Native American community.
“I am honored to be recognized with this award,” Walls said. “I am also proud to be part of the OFIW, whose members work tirelessly on behalf of Indian women throughout the state through advocacy efforts, community service projects and statewide awareness of issues important to Native American women. I look forward to continuing to be part of the organization, and I appreciate the support and recognition of its members.”
Walls is currently the president of the OFIW, the youngest president in the organization’s history. She will serve as president until July, and will then continue as a member of the organization’s board. Highlights to her service to the group include a recent Youth Conference and Women’s Conference focusing on Native American women.
A native of Ada, Walls earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She currently works for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Communications and Community Development, in the Public Affairs office.
Walls is a 2013 graduate of Ada Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership YOUniversity program and she currently serves on the Native American Journalist Association’s national election committee.
Among her others honors include being a former Junior Miss Indian Oklahoma, director of Miss and Jr. Miss Indian Oklahoma in 2009-11, recipient of the Te Ata Thompson Fisher Culinary Arts Award in the Chickasaw Nation Employee Art Show, and has received the Chickasaw Nation Department of Communications and Community Development Community Involvement Award for the past two years. Walls also hosts a weekly radio show “Monday Saving Mondays” on 89.5 FM KCNP.
Dr. Kent Smith received the Alice Timmons Founders Award, which is given to an outstanding person who has founded or co-founded an organization benefitting American Indians.
Smith is a citizen of the Comanche Nation and of Chickasaw descent. He is the co-founder of the Native Explorers program, which develops and supports educational programs and promotes partnerships that increase the number of Native Americans in science and medicine.
“It is a great honor the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women recognized Native Explores as making major contributions toward bettering the lives of Native people,” Dr. Smith said. “Our goal is to improve the lives of Native people through introducing them to science and medicine as potential careers and enlightenment as part of their culture, because culture and tradition is part of Native Explorers, as well.”
Established in 2010, the Native Explorers educational programs include the Native Explorers Program at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, and the Native Explorers student organization at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. Partnerships include the Chickasaw Nation, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the USDA Forest Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The Chickasaw Nation’s Department of Education has also developed a Junior Native Explorers club for Chickasaw youth ages 6-18 years old.
Smith is an Associate at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and is an Affiliated Research Associate at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.
He received his bachelor’s degree in Biology/Chemistry from Cameron University, Lawton,a Master in Biology from Midwestern State University and a doctorate in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma.
Smith’s professional memberships include: American Association of Anatomists, American Society of Mammalogists, Oklahoma Academy of Science, Oklahoma Microscopy Society, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, the Texas Academy of Science and Western North American Naturalists.
Smith resides near Stroud.