|Carrie Sahmaunt, oldest Kiowa Indian, dies at 101
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Carrie Sahmaunt recounts some of her life's story in this 2001 file photograph.
Jan. 18, 2006
By United Methodist News Service
Carrie Sahmaunt, who
was the oldest living member of the Kiowa Indian Tribe, died Jan. 15 at
the age of 101 at her home in Meers, Okla.
The funeral service was
scheduled for Jan. 18 at Mt. Scott Kiowa United Methodist Church, near
Lawton, Okla., with burial in the Mt. Scott Inter-Tribal Cemetery. The church was built in 1895 by her family and is often referred to as the mother church of the Kiowas. Her parents, the Quoetones, and husband’s family, the Sahmaunts, were charter members. Today, Mt. Scott Kiowa United Methodist Church is an official United Methodist historical site.
Sahmaunt’s Kiowa name
was Tsat-Mah, which means “Door Woman.” She was born Aug. 20, 1904, in
Carnegie, Okla., during a Sun Dance being held north of town. It was
when she was forced by the U.S. government to attend the Rainy Mountain
Boarding School with other Kiowa children that she received her English
All Native American
children were given English names and would be punished if they were
caught speaking their language. Despite that, Sahmaunt was among a few
Kiowas who still spoke the language.
Sahmaunt was one of
three Kiowas who received a 160-acre land allotment from the federal
government almost 100 years ago. In addition to being a full-blood
member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, she was a women’s leader in the
United Methodist Church.
“The conference lost
another legacy in the passing of Carrie Sahmaunt,” said the Rev. David
Wilson, superintendent of the United Methodist Church’s Oklahoma Indian
Missionary (regional) Conference.
“She was a living
testimony and inspiration to Native and non-Native people across the
Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and the state of Oklahoma,” Wilson
said. “She will be missed, but I am comforted to know that so many of
her children and grandchildren continue to live what she taught and
lived through her belief in Christ. She not only taught what she
believed, but she lived it.”
When she turned 100
years old in 2004, more than 400 people from several tribes and groups
across the country and the state of Oklahoma gathered for the birthday.
She received a birthday card from President George W. Bush and his wife
Laura, as well as a proclamation from the Oklahoma governor, Brad
Henry, in her honor.
According to Jacob
Tsotigh, a member of Norman (Okla.) First American United Methodist
Church, Sahmaunt influenced the lives of countless American Indian
people with whom she came in contact.
He also said her
parents were leaders of Mt. Scott Kiowa United Methodist Church, and she
remained an integral part of the congregation.
Sahmaunt was a strong
believer in education and made sure that all of her 10 children and a
nephew furthered their education beyond high school. In 1976, she was
named the “Merit Mother of the Year” for the state of Oklahoma, and in
1988, the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education named her “Indian
Education Parent of the Year.” She was the first president of the former
West District Women’s Society of Christian Service in the United
Methodist Church’s former Indian Mission. She also was a staunch
advocate for United Methodist Women, and monthly UMW meetings were held
at her home so that she could participate.
“The passing of two of
her daughters and one granddaughter in the last couple of years weighed
heavy on her heart in recent weeks,” Tsotigh said in an e-mail. “She was
surely ready to meet her reward through a lifetime of service and
dedication to her people, God’s people, that reached across cultural
boundaries and social status to reflect the genuine presence of God’s
love to those with whom she served. May God bless her legacy and
Married to the late
Joel Sahmaunt, she is survived by eight children, 23 grandchildren, 41
great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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