As many of you know, I’m a member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma and my Mom is an enrolled Muscogee Creek. My father, Ken Wahpecome, was a full-blood Kickapoo, raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Since Dad was a Navy man, we moved around the country a lot and didn’t spend much time in Oklahoma. However, he had always intended to return to Shawnee with my sister and me so we could get our Indian names, but sadly it didn’t happen while he was living.
When I was home in Oklahoma last year, my Aunt Sue Alford and my cousin Paula Willits and I visited the Kickapoo tribal offices to get people excited about coming to see me in “The Red Road,” which was finally coming to Oklahoma thanks to the Gilcrease Museum. While there, I re-connected with my Aunt Cecelia Okemah Frye, who was one of my Dad’s best childhood friends. I told her about my Dad’s request for his daughters to receive their Indian names. A few visits and phone calls later, Aunt Cecelia (with many thanks to her son Martin and his wife Joyce) arranged a special ceremony for me in June, right before my appearance at the Creek Nation Festival.
The ceremony was amazing and I’m proud to be able to announce my Indian name to the world-–Makateodecua-–which means “Black Buffalo Walking.” I definitely felt the presence of my Dad and the ancestors there. It meant so much to be so warmly welcomed by my Kickapoo family.