Bacone College presented Dr. Mark J. Simms an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during the college’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.

“Dr. Simms has contributed to the cultural, economic, and political well-being of his people and country,” said Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark. “We are proud to recognize his lifetime achievements. His courage, resilience, and strong spirit are traits that embody the warrior spirit.”

Simms, the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board Chair, is Osage, Cherokee, and Creek Indian, has a proven track record of building profitable businesses. He is the son of Evelyn OnHand Pitts and is the grandson of Ralph OnHand (Wah¬Tsa-Ah-Tah) of the Beaver Band. After his father died, Simms was raised by the late William Pitts, brother of former Chief Paul Pitts, as his own son and in the traditional ways of the Osage. Later being adopted into the Bear Clan and given his Osage name, Le-Ta-Xoh, by Mary Red Eagle.

In 2006 Simms was elected to the newly formed Legislative branch as Congressman where he served for six years which included the Economic Development Committee with oversight over the Nation’s seven Casinos. In addition, he sat on the Appropriation Committee, the Congressional Affairs Committee, and the Cultural Committee. He was appointed the Osage Energy Services, LLC and now the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board where he serves as Chair. Simms received the prestigious Dr. Ralph Dru Career and Professional Award in 2013 from the Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission.
Simms was honored on Friday at a special dinner at the Osage Nation Casino Hotel, where he was honored, blessed, and gifted.

His degree was conferred at the Osage Nation Skyline Event Center during the college’s commencement exercises.

“We are thankful to the Osage Nation for allowing us the use of their outstanding facilities for the honoring dinner and graduation,” Clark said. “Because of the large venue and limited attendance that provided ample social distancing opportunities, and our ability to do temperature checks, provide masks and hand sanitizer, we were able to offer our graduates and honorees the recognition and experience they have earned.”

Simms’ degree presentation followed one at Carnegie, Oklahoma the previous Saturday for Dr. Phil “Joe Fish” Dupoint, a much-revered member of the Kiowa Tribe.

“Bacone College is proud to honor Dr. Simms and Dr. Dupoint for their contributions to our Native American communities and to humanity,” Clark said.

Full biographies are available on request.