Chickasaw Hall of Fame to Induct Five
A culture bearer, a pillar of the community, a dedicated educator, a devoted physician and a Native American diplomat comprise the 2014 class of the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame ceremonies will take place at 5:30 p.m. May 1 at Riverwind Showplace Theater in Norman, Oklahoma. Governor Bill Anoatubby will participate in the induction ceremonies.
The 2014 Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductees are Irene L. Digby, Davis, Oklahoma; Marvin E. Mitchell, Fitzhugh, Oklahoma; James Wilburn Hampton, M.D., Oklahoma City; Silas C. Wolf Jr. Norman; and Chickasaw Ambassador Charles Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell will be inducted posthumously.
“It is our privilege to honor these individuals who have made significant contributions to the Chickasaw Nation and the larger community,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “Their commitment to sharing tribal history, culture and heritage, protecting sovereignty, promoting educational opportunities, healing the sick and serving others epitomizes the spirit and perseverance of the Chickasaw people.”
Irene Lois Pettigrew Digby
A true diplomat of the Chickasaw Nation, 92-year-old Irene Lois Pettigrew Digby shares Chickasaw culture, heritage and tradition with her friends and neighbors in her hometown of Davis and beyond. A distinguished Chickasaw storyteller, Mrs. Digby can often be found sharing Indian tales and teaching Chickasaw ways to children at Davis Public Schools. Through teachable moments with younger generations, she strives to keep Chickasaw culture and heritage flourishing. For her efforts, Mrs. Digby was inducted into the Davis Alumni Association in October 2013.
A fluent Chickasaw speaker, she teaches and shares her native language, along with beading and Chickasaw hymns to all generations. Mrs. Digby also passes on her well-known traditional Pashofa recipe to other cooks. Parents in the community consult with Mrs. Digby to find Chickasaw names for their children, a tradition she established with her own children and grandchildren. The parents consider this act an honor.
A soft-spoken Chickasaw women, she proudly speaks of her heritage and has an immense love for the Chickasaw people. Mrs. Digby has been featured in three publications from the Chickasaw Press, including “Proud to be Chickasaw, Elders of the Chickasaw Nation, Volume II” a collection of elder paintings and stories by Mike and Martha Larsen and Jeannie Barbour. The painting now hangs at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. She also leant her talents in the documentary “Chickasaw Removal.” She consistently serves in many capacities for the Chickasaw Nation, including as an elder representative at the annual Chickasaw Nation Princess Pageant.
Born November 12, 1921, in the Murray County, Oklahoma, community of Fairview to Joe and Serena Fulsom Pettigrew, Mrs. Digby was the fourth of daughter of the family. The family later moved to its allotment land in the Sunshine community of Murray County and lived in a tiny house they called the “White House.” Church was the center of the Pettigrews’ lives. They attended Sandy Baptist Church faithfully, where they sang Choctaw hymns. Mrs. Digby shares those hymns at her current church in Davis.
Growing up in a farming family, her mother and father spoke primarily the Chickasaw language. It was there she learned to create traditional Chickasaw fare such as a Pashofa—in a big black pot—roasted corn, potato bread, blue bread and fry bread. Even in the grips of the Depression, the family had plenty to eat.
Mrs. Digby graduated Davis High School and later married B.F. “Dick” Digby, who served in World War II. Given the Chickasaw name Ishki’ Chokma (Good Mother) by her mother, Mr. and Mrs. Digby had four children, Aaron Dean, Ronnie, Beverly and Rhonda, 11 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
In her spare time, Mrs. Digby loves to garden and tend to her roses and spend time with her family. She particularly loves sharing her Chickasaw stories with her family.
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