1993 Red Earth Festival “Honored One”

Doc Tate Nevaquaya

“Honored One”

Joyce “Doc” Tate Nevaquaya (1932-1996, of the Comanche Tribe), my friend & fellow artist, was named The Honored One at the 1993 Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City. But during this festival, the passing of his close friend & Comanche brother, George “Woogie” Watchetaker was on his heart & mind. Woogie was on all the hearts & minds of all who knew & loved him. Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Ronnie Harris and I (Cheryl Davis) came together to submit a statement to Red Earth, “a tribute to Woogie,” which included a couple of recommendations.

The letter read as follows:

A Lasting Tribute to the Memory of
George “Woogee” Watchetaker
2/29/16 – 5/27/93

Red Earth will never be the same without the physical presence of Woogee, our beloved “Honored One.”

Woogee was known as a Native American Ambassador world wide. He was a friend, brother, father and grandfather who loved all people, no matter what their race or religion. Woogee gave us all a gift and because the Great Spirit has given us an even greater gift, we will never truly say good-bye.

In honor of Woogee’s contribution to art, dance and his dedicated interest in encouraging our Indian youth to know, practice and pass on their culture, the many friends of Woogee have proposed an award to be presented annually to an entrant in the Red Earth Youth Art Competition which best represents the traditional art styles practiced by Woogie. An additional award is also proposed for a contestant in the Junior Fancy Dance category. These award would be known as the “Woogee Watchetaker Award.”

It is anticipated that the funding for these annual awards would come from the interest on donated funds. If sufficient funding is generated, a scholarship in Woogee’s name is also a possibility.

One of Woogee’s friends has written,

“As you look to the hills and valleys of this land, as
you see the mighty eagle soar, as the smallest wild
flower grows, the spirit of our dear brother lives on.”

It is an honor for us to coordinate this tribute to Woogee, “The Honored One.”

Allie P. Reynolds, Red Earth, President

Signed: /Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Co-Chairman/
Signed: /Cheryl Davis, Co-Chairman/
Signed: /Ronnie Harris, Co-Chairman/

To my knowledge, the proposed awards were never established by Red Earth. A few short years later, Doc passed on. I was told that Doc will once again be honored at Red Earth. I don’t know if this is accurate information, but I thought it appropriate to publish this letter, signed by Doc, which expressed his desire that Red Earth honor his dear brother, Woogie, both formally and annually at the Red Earth festival.

I hope you will be moved to contact Red Earth (http://www.redearth.org/) to propose that the awards indeed be established, in the names of both men, Doc Tate Nevaquaya & George “Woogie” Watchetaker. It seems only fitting that they be honored together by creating these awards that Doc so desired they adopt. These Comanche brothers served together for so many years as Native American Ambassadors to the world… and influenced everyone whose path crossed theirs. Their priceless, long-lasting contributions should forever be honored and passed on to our youth. These awards would be a great way to assure they are remembered & acknowledged every year in a very appropriate way and that they are annually introduced to the next generation of future Native American artists, dancers, lecturers, teachers, composers, musicians, craftsmen & professionals who will shape our future. It will be these young people who will help preserve our rich heritage & history and “what better way is there to show them how one person can have such a positive and profound impact on this world and others.”

Once again, please consider contacting Red Earth to request that the Red Earth Festival officially & permanently establish the “Joyce “Doc” Tate Nevaquaya & George “Woogie” Watchetaker Annual Red Earth Awards” for our youth, in art and dance, in honor of these great men.

To Contact Red Earth:
On the Web: http://www.redearth.org/
Phone: (405) 427-5228
Fax: (405) 427-8079
Address: 2100 N. E. 52nd, OKC, OK USA

Other Interesting Facts About Joyce “Doc” Tate Nevaquaya: His first name, Doc, was given to him by a doctor named Joyce who was a family friend. Nevaquaya means “tired of being pretty” or “tired of being well groomed.” Tate was the name of a white man from Fletcher who was a friend of his grandfather. His grandfather and Fletcher raised cattle together, and in the late 1880’s when the Bureau of Indian Affairs required members of the tribes to give an account of themselves, they needed an English name Tate offered his name to his childhood friend and he accepted that offer.

Doc Tate developed an early appreciation in his youth for the rich history and ceremonies of his people. His desire to preserve the Comanche culture was expressed through his preferred media of water color and tempera. A self-taught artist, he carefully researched and accurately represents the dress and customs of his tribe through his “nearly lost art” of traditional style paintings. (Establishment of the Joyce “Doc” Tate Nevaquaya & George”Woogie” Watchetaker Annual Red Earth Awards (both in art & dance) might just help preserve their traditional style of painting by encouraging our young people to follow in their steps and keep it alive!)

Nevaquaya has received many honors & awards through the years & his work both here in the U.S. and abroad. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Kennedy Center & National Endowment of the Arts recognized & honored him. But he is famous not only as an artist, but as a lecturer, teacher, composer & musician, as well as a flute maker. In 1986 he received the Presidential Award from President Ronald Reagan. Doc Tate also received the Governor’s award for the Diamond Jubilee Coin, ordered in 1982 to go down in the Guinness Book of Records as the first Peyote coin to depict the American Indian church.

For those of you not familiar with the RED EARTH FESTIVAL held in OKLAHOMA CITY, OK: The Red Earth Festival is named in honor of the Oklahoma Indians. In the Choctaw language “red people” means those who share the color of the clay soil.This annual gathering, held in Oklahoma City Fair Park towards the end of May, is the largest in the world, drawing together more than 100 northern and southern Native American tribes for dance competitions and an arts festival. The festivities begin with an electrifying parade through the Fair Park fairgrounds, featuring dancers, drummers and tribal princesses in buckskins, beads and feathers. Visiting families should make sure to see the tot, junior and teen dance performances, and admire the entries in the youth art competition. Other family activities include dramatized storytelling, hands-on crafts, face painting and Native American children’s games.
More on DOC TATE NEVAQUAYA (Commanche)

Funeral services for Doc Tate Nevaquaya, 63, of Apache, were conducted Thursday, March 7, 1996, at 1:00 p.m. at the Ft. Sill Indian School Gymnasium, Lawton, with the Rev. Ronnie Simmons, officiating. A prayer service was held at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the United Methodist Church of Apache with the Rev. Andy Kamphuis and the Rev. George Montanan, officiating.

Nevaquaya died Tuesday, March 5, 1996, at a Lawton hospital, after suffering a massive heart attack Monday. A full-blooded Comanche, Doc was born July 3, 1932 in Apache, Oklahoma. His parents died eight months apart when he was 13 and he spent his teenage years living with his grandparents, listening to the stories of the tribal elders.

His oldest brother, who was working, assumed the role of a motivating parent. He brought home crayons and a tablet for Doc and encouraged him to draw the nearby Wichita Mountains — something his teachers didn’t approve of. Ironically, at Fort Sill Indian School where Doc was a student, government policies forbidding portrayals of Indian culture was “pagan” had been reversed. Traditional Indian art was then a part of the curriculum, and students were discouraged from pursuing other areas like landscape painting. So Doc avoided taking art classes in school. He wanted to be free from that, to paint what he felt within. Whenever he got a chance, he would sketch the rugged Slick Hills by the farm, complete with rocks and cedars and horses which, for him, were a part of the landscape. At that same time, Doc went out of his way to view all the traditional art that he could, and contributed his own artwork to posters and the school yearbook.

After graduating from high school, he began sketching at home. Doc exhibited and sold his first work at Indian City in Anadarko.

During the 1950s he began to concentrate on painting. After that he became an accomplished painter, winning numerous awards for his work. Art critic Ralph Oliver said his works were “characterized by amazing technical control, exquisite color and a mastery of detail:’

It was also during the 1950s that Doc first became interested in Indian flutes. In the 1960s he began researching the Indian flute in earnest. Because none of the Indian music is written, much of it is lost. Doc researched the flute construction and playing techniques at the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution collections and had copies of recordings made in the late 1800s by elders of various tribes. He often listened to them while he painted and based his music on the recordings.

Doc Tate Nevaquaya brought national honor to the state of Oklahoma in 1986, becoming the first Oklahoman to win the National Heritage Fellowship Award. Given by the National Endowment for the Arts, the award honored Doc as a “flutist and master of traditional arts.” He was equally well-known for his paintings.

The following are Doc’s credits or accomplishments:

1995— Was named National Living Treasure, and received award by Gov. Keating; Honorary Cultural Director of the American Indian Cultural Society, Inc., Norman; served on the Board of Directors for the Fine Ants Department at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

1994 — Elected to the College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors, University of Oklahoma, Norman; The Doe Tate Nevaquaya Scholarship Fund in the College of Fine Arts was established by American Indian Cultural Society, Inc. through the University of Oklahoma Foundation, Inc. to be available to deserving American Indian students; selected “1994 Artist of the West” by The 18th Annual National Western Art Exhibition and Sale, San Dimas, California.

1993 — Named “The Honored One” and Parade Marshall for the Red Earth Festival, OKC.

1992 — Ambassador and Parade Marshall for 61st Annual American Indian Exposition, Anadarko; Juried, The Trail of Tears an All Indian Art Competition, Tahlequah; Juried, The Seminole Nation Art Competition, Orlando, Florida; “700 Club”, spoke on behalf of American Indian people.

1991 — Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Arts Council to compose the song “Flight of the Spirit” in honor of the five Native American Ballerinas at the dedication ceremony, Historic Mural Great Rotunda, Oklahoma State Capitol, OKC; Board of Director and founding member of the American Indian Cultural Society, Inc., Norman; Performed at Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada.

1990— Doc was named “A Living Legend” along with six other Indian Artists; performed at Carnegie Hall, New York City, N.Y.

1989 — Doc opened the archery competition of the U.S. Olympic Festival in Norman, with a flute song.

1988— Performed at United Nations Mission, New York City.

1987 — Doc’s art was listed as Best Investments for 1987.

1986 — The Comanche Tribe of 3klahoma proclaimed the second Friday in October as “Doc Tate Nevaquaya” Day; received the National Endowment Heritage Award for his contribution to the Native American Art forms; received special recognition from Oklahoma State Art Council; Gov. George Nigh; Senator David Boren and a letter from President Ronald Reagan; Master’s Artist Award, Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma; Grand Award Winner, Trail of Tears All Indian Art Competition in Tahlequah.

1982— Performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for Night of the First Americans;, with Loretta Lynn, Wayne Newton and Sammy Davis Jr; Listed in the Renowned Artist in the U.S.; Listed in Who’s Who Among American Indians.

1979— Production of an Album of Flute Music, Folklore Music Co., New York City.

1975 — Selected as a famous Oklahoman and name included in the honor list displayed in the Fidelity Bank, OKC; selected by Governor Boren as Artist of the Month, State of Oklahoma; selected by Governor Boren to direct an All Indian Art Show to celebrate Governor’s inauguration; performed with Freddy Fender, Mel Tillis and Roy Clark at the Roy Clark Ranch, Tulsa; Diamond Jubilee Heritage Week Outstanding Citizen, Apache Chamber of Commerce; recipient of the key to the city of Weatherford, along with Astronaut Allen Shepard; artist of a book cover “Komantica” by Harold Keith; lectured in Indian Boarding Schools and Public Schools of Oklahoma.

1970— “On the Road with Charles Kuralt” interviewed for TV Documentary; he was included in a program on British Television and at Expo ‘70 in Japan.

1968-69-70 — Winner of the Grand Award for three consecutive years at the American Indian Exposition, Anadarko.

Nevaquaya’s works are included in the personal collections of Queen Elizabeth II of England and the late actor Vincent Price.

Survivors include his wife, Charlotte, of the home; five sons, Lean of Ft. Worth, Edmond, Timothy, Joseph and Calvert, all of Apache; four daughters, Jereaux Nevaquaya of Apache, Amanda Sue Bordeaux of Rosebud, S.D., ioycetta Harris of Stroud, and Sonya Reyes of Apache; 17 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; one brother, Bernard Tate Nevaquaya of Indiahoma and one sister, Greta Logan of Shawnee. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lean and Victoria Nevaquaya and two brothers, Malcolm Nevaquaya and Edward Parker.

Burial was in Cache Creek Indian Cemetery under the direction of Crews Funeral Home.



March 6, 1996

New York Times

Doc T. Nevaquaya, Comanche Artist, 63


Doc Tate Nevaquaya, a Comanche artist and flutist who was named an Oklahoma Treasure last fall, died on Tuesday in Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton. He was 63.

The cause was a heart attack, said Mary Pewo, a family friend.

Mr. Nevaquaya was only the second person designated an Oklahoma Treasure, an award that recognized his preservation and sharing of the Comanche Nation’s culture. In his art, he preferred to paint traditional dancers in the traditional style, depicting one-dimensional, highly detailed figures. He and his wife, Charlotte, began working with local missions in the 1960’s and encouraged Indians to improve their craftsmanship and learn the meaning of their designs.

He acquired his first flute in the 1940’s, while a student at the Fort Sill Indian School. Over the years he began to make flutes from cedar and researched Comanche music for the instrument. In 1982, he performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington with Loretta Lynn, Wayne Newton and Sammy Davis Jr. in “A Night of First Americans.”

He released two recordings, “Indian Flute Songs From Comanche Land” and “Comanche Flute Music.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by five sons and four daughters.

Published in: on June 8, 2007 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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