Neal McCaleb, Chairman of the Chickasaw Nation Industries, has been named the 2012 Red Earth Ambassador of the Year.
The 26th Annual Red Earth Festival closes today at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
The Red Earth Ambassador of the Year award was founded in 1991 to recognize individuals, not necessarily of Native American descent, who have made significant contributions in presenting a positive image of American Indians.
Ambassador of the Year recipients have come from all areas of accomplishments – including artists and sports stars, actors and journalists and community and government leaders. Previous recipients have included Olympian Billy Mills; historian, screenwriter and war correspondent Alvin M. Josephy, Jr; Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and poet laureate N. Scott Momaday: astronaut John Herrington and actor Kevin Costner.
A professional engineer and Chickasaw citizen, Neal McCaleb has served his state and nation in many capacities bringing recognition to himself, the Chickasaw Nation, and all Native Americans. He has been an advocate for Native American interests and well-being his entire adult life as exemplified by the positions of authority he has held.
He has received appointments from four governors and three presidents providing evidence he is held in high esteem both nationally and locally, according to a news release. His lifetime of achievements has made a significant impact in providing and promoting a positive image for all Native Americans.
McCaleb’s accomplishments and awards are vast, including:
- An appointment by President George W. Bush to Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (2001-2003)
- Appointment to Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation (1995-2001), by Gov. Frank Keating
- Named Director of Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (1995-2001) by Gov. Frank Keating
- Named Oklahoma’s first Secretary of Transportation (1987-1993), by Gov. Henry Bellmon
- Elected Minority Leader of Oklahoma House of Representatives (1979-1983)
- Elected to Oklahoma House of Representatives (1975-1983)
- Served on the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission (1967-1972)
- Appointed by President Richard Nixon to the National Council on Indian Opportunity (1972-1974)
- Appointed to the President’s Commission on Reservation Economies (1983-1984) by Pres. Ronald Reagan
- Appointed to the Board of Regents for the University of Arts and Sciences (2005 – present), by Gov. Brad Henry
- Oklahoma Transportation Center Interim Exec. Dir. (2006-2008)
- Advisory Board for Community Development Finance Institutions for the US Treasury Dept (2008 – present)
- Named 2011 OSU Distinguished Alumni Award
- 2011 Chickasaw Hall of Fame
- and 2011 Native American Newsmaker of the Year.
The Red Earth Ambassador award is represented by a bronze sculpture crated by Red Earth Festival award-winning artist Troy Anderson.
McCaleb served a grand marshal of the Red Earth Parade, which opened the festival Friday morning.
For more than 30 years, the nonprofit Red Earth, Inc has been recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. The Red Earth Museum & Gallery, at 6 Santa Fe Plaza in downtown Oklahoma city, hosts a diverse and changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and is custodian of a permanent collection of more than 1,400 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork, including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.
Go to www.redearth.org for additional information.