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MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – April 12, 2021

Bacone College is pleased to announce our Spring 2021 honorary graduate, Louis V. Headman (Ponca elder). The college will confer an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on Headman during commencement on campus on May 8, 2021.

“Louis Headman is a Native American treasure,” said Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark. “We are honoring him for his lifelong contributions to preserving language, culture, and history.”

Headman, a Bacone College alumnus, taught the Ponca language since 1975, and over the years, wrote tribal stories and recorded conversations. Along with the Dictionary of the Ponca People, he wrote on the history and culture of the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma entitled Walks On The Ground.  The University of Nebraska Press at Lincoln published both works.  Foremost, for providing information, were his parents.

“We are honored for Mr. Headman to receive this blessing from Bacone College for his lifelong love and commitment to perpetrate our Ponca language,” said Ponca Tribal Chairman Oliver Littlecook Sr. “We will conduct a special honoring of Mr. Headman on our tribal cultural grounds on Friday, April 30. Our Ponca tribe will honor Mr. Headman with prayer, songs, and dances celebrating his achievement.

Those contributing to his knowledge of the language and history included relatives and friends, Headman said. Outstanding Ponca speakers included Albert Makescry, Sr., Norman “Willie” Cry (Cries for War), Napoleon “Bird” Buffalohead, James Poor, David Buffalohead, William Cries for War, Robert and Helen Washington Little Dance, Adam and Bessie LeClair, Stanford White Star, Nancy Maker, Molly Roy, Carrie Little Voice Tyndall, and Albert Makescry, Jr.

These were the last fluent Ponca speakers who made a great impact upon him in the use of the Ponca language.  From them, he also learned the stories of Ponca ritualism, ceremonialism and healing.  Through the songs of the Ponca, he learned the history of great men of the tribe, and the respect and dignity given to persons of valor and of good report.

Bacone College’s commencement exercises are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at the college’s historic campus located at 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee. Attendance is limited to ticket holders as a social distancing precaution.