Chickasaw storyteller honored with Silver Feather Award

Release Date: 10.01.2020
By: Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Glenda Galvan

ADA, Okla. – Celebrated Chickasaw storyteller and author Glenda Galvan is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Silver Feather Award.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said that Galvan is very deserving of the honor.

“Glenda Galvan is a gifted storyteller, teacher and historian who has dedicated her life to promoting, preserving and revitalizing Chickasaw culture and history,” said Governor Anoatubby. “Her efforts to teach the storytelling tradition and her work to help preserve historic sites such as the Chickasaw White House help ensure future generations better understand and appreciate our culture and history.”

The honor was created in 1999 by the Chickasaw Nation to spotlight Chickasaws who have committed their lives to the preservation and revitalization of Chickasaw culture, language and traditions.

“I was really surprised and this award is the most precious one to me because of what it means: preserving our culture,” Galvan said.

“I love the culture of the Chickasaw Nation and who we are. I also love who we were. Our ancestors before us passed down our stories and history. They worked diligently to keep the Chickasaw culture proud and it is up to us to continue that legacy,” she said.

Galvan has published three children’s books in both English and Chickasaw, and presented these stories at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Born in Coal County, Oklahoma, Galvan worked for the Chickasaw Nation for more than 27 years before retiring as manager of the Chickasaw White House, located in Emet, Oklahoma.

Galvan was born into the fox clan of the Chickasaw Nation and is the storyteller for her clan. Her family name, Ayakatubby, means “to go down and kill” in Chickasaw. Her family served the tribe as hunters.

She has served on numerous museum boards and her writing has been published by organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute, the National Park Service, Wonderland Press, Chickasaw Press and Chelsea House Publishers. She often travels the country, as well as Canada and Mexico, sharing her culture and traditional Southeastern First American stories.

Galvan received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma and was the first curator and repatriation representative for the Chickasaw Nation Museum and Library.

One of Galvan’s publications, a children’s book titled “Chickasha Stories, A Shared Spirit,” won the Oklahoma Department of Libraries “Best in Category” award. “A Shared Spirit” was the first in a series of three books. The trio of books is illustrated by Jeannie Barbour, who serves the Chickasaw Nation as creative development director. Barbour also is a writer and historian, invaluable to the tribe in the movies “Te Ata” and “Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher,” which is in post-production.

All the stories in Galvan’s books are drawn from Chickasaw oral tradition. The books mark the first bilingual book series published by the Chickasaw Press. The stories are told in both English and Chickasaw.

Galvan’s books serve as an introduction to the Chickasaw language, while preserving the storytelling tradition so vital to Chickasaw culture. The books introduce the kindred spirit Chickasaw people have always shared with animals and nature. Each of Galvan’s stories teaches important life lessons and provides an ancient Chickasaw perspective on why things in nature occur the way they do.

She is currently active helping the U.S. Census count individuals residing in the United States. The census count is promoted and encouraged by the Chickasaw Nation. When the total population is tallied, it will determine how billions of taxpayer dollars are distributed in America’s cities, counties, health facilities and states. It could also increase or decrease the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives depending on population shifts.

About the Silver Feather Award

The Chickasaw Nation Silver Feather Award was established in 1999 to honor Chickasaws who have committed their lives to the presentation and preservation of Chickasaw culture, language and way of life.

These rare individuals have taken steps to pass along their unique knowledge to a younger generation of Chickasaws. They have committed to activities in their daily lives that bring awareness to Chickasaw people.

The name of the award is appropriate, because the feather is one of the most honored gifts that a First American can receive. Silver was chosen because of its endurance and captivating shine that caught the eye of Chickasaw ancestors more than 500 years ago and became a much sought after trade item.

Since its inception, 21 people have received the Silver Feather Award. These include: Adam Walker, 1999; Pauline Walker, 2000; Charlie Carter, 2001; Juanita Byars, 2002; Sim Greenwood, 2003; Geneva Holman, 2004; Leerene Frazier, 2005; Rose Jefferson, 2006; Stanley Smith, 2007; Marie Beck, 2008; Jerry Underwood, 2009; Catherine Pickens Willmond, 2010; Weldon Fulsom, 2011; Emma McLeod, 2012; Jerry Imotichey, 2013; Virginia Alexander Bolen, 2014; Sam Johnson, 2015; Sue Fish, 2016; Daniel Worchester, 2017; Pauline Brown, 2018 and Harold Stick, 2019.