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Chickasaw Nation Artist & Historian Jeannie Barbour Named Oklahoma Illustrator of 2013
by Native News Network Staff in Native Currents
ADA, OK– The Chickasaw Nation proudly announces renowned artist and historian Jeannie Barbour has been named Illustrator of 2013 by the Oklahoma Chapter of the International Society for Key Women Educators.

Delta Kappa Gamma cited her art work in Chikasha Stories, Volume One: Shared Spirit.

The state chapter selected her work as the very best based upon the expression of "creativity that encourages, inspires and reaches children," the chapter said in announcing the award. "We are pleased to honor your work. As one judge states, "the illustrations delightfully add to the tales. The expressions on the animals" faces are exquisite."

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

"Jeannie has an incredible talent for bringing Chickasaw heritage and culture to life through her artwork,"

said Gov. Anoatubby.

"These illustrations bring an added dimension to this book as Jeannie's creativity and vivid imagination brighten the page with images inspired by the words of our elders. These stories and images are as appealing and enlightening to adults as they are to children.

"Our congratulations go out to Jeannie, Glenda and everyone involved in this project."

Ms. Barbour sits at a desk surrounded by history books, storybooks, and a few pieces of art. She gently opens the book cited by the society and talks about the illustrations she contributed. She is pleased and proud of the honor.

Just a few days ago, she finished illustrating the third and final installment of the Chikasha book series compiled by Chickasaw storyteller and tribal elder Glenda Galvan. The stories are printed in English and Chickasaw.

For three years, she’s been at it. Working from home and after hours to complete the project, Ms. Barbour smiles slyly and wonders out loud if she ever met a Chickasaw Press deadline. She thinks perhaps she did, but isn't really sure.

"The Chickasaw Press people have been very patient with me,"

she added.

The second book in the series is called Chikasha Stories: Shared Voices.

Illustrations for the third installment, Chikasha Stories: Shared Wisdom, have just recently been delivered to the printer.

So … now what?

"I have some ideas I'd like to pursue and of course they all have to do with Chickasaw history and culture because that is my passion,"

Ms. Barbour said.

"There is a thing called a starving artist and I would be one if I didn't have this job. So I feel very fortunate to be doing what it is I love to do and then have the art in my spare time to express that in another way,"

she said.

Galvan specifically requested Ms. Barbour illustrate the three book series. The books met with enthusiasm by tribal elders despite the tribe's history of passing them down orally for hundreds of years. Galvan had agreed to write down her stories.

"Normally, oral tradition, particularly for traditionalists like Glenda, requires that stories be spoken orally. You don't ever write them down. Most tribes sort of hold to that rule,"

Ms. Barbour said.

"There has been a problem with the loss of these old stories because most of them are held by elders and when you lose an elder, you lose a lot, especially if they are language speakers. There was a concern we were losing too many of these stories. So it was decided maybe we should write them down. Glenda had talked with the elders to see if this would be appropriate or not and they said "yes, we think it's important they be written down." So, she shared some of the stories she got from elders and also some of her own family stories."

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