Lita: l know you are from Anadarko,
Oklahoma, you are of the Kiowa Nation and you are a
very good Master of Ceremonies. I also know that you
were voted best emcee for the last three years by the
readers poll of the Oklahoma Indian Times.
Sammy: Ahoe - thanks for giving me this
opportunity to thank all the readers who voted for me.
Lita: Let me back
up here and say, thanks Tone-kei for this interview.
To begin with, I asked you to write a piece in which
you touch on your many accomplishments. You said that
it would not feel right talking that much about
yourself, so enter Uta. Now, how long have you been
Sammy: My son
Sammy III and I did some research and we discovered
that my first powwow emceeing was in 1968. I started
when I was ten years old. aye!
Lita: I asked you
earlier to be thinking of how many states and
countries you have visited as an emcee.
Sammy: 31 states
including Hawaii and Alaska. The countries I've emceed
in are Canada, Tahiti, Mexico and New Zealand, they
were native audiences.
Melonie and I were in the audience last year when you
were center stage with the New Mexico Symphony here in
Albuquerque. We cracked up when you gave the conductor
a gift of your Gourd Dance blanket and said, "they
took everything we had when they first came here and
I'm still giving." You made us feel proud.
Sammy: The name of
the symphony was Pau-wau and it was written by a young
Mohican composer named Brent Michael Davids. You
guessed it, I was the powwow announcer in that
Lita: I've read
your profile in several powwow souvenir books, they
usually mention that you are a Marine veteran and that
you belong to warrior clans. It also mentions your
past involvement in multimedia projects furthering our
Indian culture. Name some of those media projects
Sammy: Media thing
is all in the past.
Lita: You are
receiving a, "Lifetime of Achievement - Powwow
Announcer of the Past Century Award." Therefore, we
need information on your past achievements. You
Sammy: I know and
I'm very honored. Ahoe.
Lita: What phase
of the media are you involved in?
Tonekei and Vinita...still together after 50 years!
I still write a column called, "Tonekei
Lita: Didn't you
have a television show at one time?
Sammy: I had a
television talk show for 14 years, it was called,
TRIBES; Voices From The Land. It was on an ABC
affiliate station. Had three radio shows called,
Indians for Indians, Tone-kei's Experience and
Reflections. I'm proud to report that I won the Radio
Indian Media Award at the 1984 National Indian
Communications Conference sponsored by The Native
American Public Broadcasting Consortium. It was for
the Indians for Indians show sponsored by the Oklahoma
Lita: Did you do
these shows simultaneously?
Sammy: Sure did.
Plus 1 wrote a weekly column for an Oklahoma City
newspaper and was editor of an Indian newspaper called
Lita: Did you have
a regular job?
Sammy: I worked at
the OKC Native American Center, I was the Public
Information officer. I concentrated on becoming a part
of all forms of the media because in those days, 1960
- 1990 there was NO outlet between any phase of
the media and the Indian world.. I decided to do
something about it.
Lita: Did the
Indian community respond favorably?
Sammy: It was
overwhelming, we now had an Indian lifeline, we now
knew what was happening from one tribe to the other.
Speaking of an Indian lifeline, my wife Vinita and I
set up a Dial-A-Powwow phone service about that time.
committees or boards have you participated in?
Sammy: I've been a
part of many committees and boards. Some of the
outstanding ones are, National Congress of American
Indians ( I held the title of Area Vice President for
two terms). I was the first Pres. Of UNITY. I sat on
the Human Rights Commission of OKC. Presently I set on
the American Indian Heritage Foundation of D.C.,
Arizona Commission of the Arts and Alt. Rep. of the
National Indian Council on Aging.
Lita: Seems you
don't dwell on the past very much. Are you more of a
planner for the future?
Sammy: Little bit
I guess... I try to concentrate on what's going on
now. I try to live each day the best way I know how.
Like right now, I know you're sincere and caring in
asking me these questions so I am trying my best to
cooperate. By the way, I feel my future will take care
Lita: My family
saw you in the inaugural parade and caught you
emceeing the inaugural Indian ball four years ago . I
hear you were apart of the inaugural parade and ball
again this year. Did you have fun?
Sammy: I sure did.
I just wish we had been celebrating Gore as President.
Lita: I hear the
year 2001 is extra special for you and your wife,
Sammy: It's very
special cause we are getting a divorce JUST KIDDING.
We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. Did I
mention that I have four children and many
grandchildren? Iím proud of them.
Congratulations! You should be an expert on what makes
a good marriage. How about it?
Sammy: I am not an
expert, we have been together this long because we
want to be together and want is the key word. Another
special thing happening in 2001 for me is, I'm being
inducted into the Kiowa Nation's Hall of Fame. I'm
very proud of that, my own tribe...
Lita: Well Tone-kei,
I have a feeling we could go on talking along time
about why we are honoring you at the eighteenth
Gathering of Nations. I am like many of your fans, I
respect your strong ways and your commitment to our
people. Thank you for this interview. Do you have any
Lita, I've read your books and I like them. I thank
the many friends and relatives who came to the
Gathering of Nations to be a part of the honoring