Cultural Preservation Department
"Keeping Eyes on the Future with Hearts in the Past!"
Our department staff seeks to appropriately educate tribal members, AST employees, and other visitors on the unique identity of the Absentee Shawnee people through lectures, discussions, workshops, classes and demonstrations. All the while maintaining working relationships with follow tribes.
We aim to maintain, preserve, and protect the Tribe's traditions, language, and ancestral homelands through our programs and involvement with our supporters.
Lastly, our department strives to celebrate, honor, and foster the Absentee Shawnee Tribe's history, heritage, growth, cultural pride and unity as a people. May we be li-si-wi-nwi! Ne-yi-wa!
The Cultural Preservation Department currently operates three programs: Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), Absentee Shawnee Gift Shop, and Absentee Shawnee Tribal Library. Please call our office or revisit this webpage in the future for new programs and tribal membership opportunities, such as Language or Heritage Paraprofessionals.
Cultural Preservation Director
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6245
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6238
Andrea Ellis-Harrison (hired March 2019) is an enrolled Absentee Shawnee tribal member with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from University of Oklahoma.
Maureen Bemo (hired May 2019) is an enrolled member of the Sac & Fox Nation. Maureen "Kay" Bemo joins the Cultural Preservation team with a great wealth of knowledge to share. Kay has a background in investigation and licenses. Kay has a traditional and well cultured background and upbringing. Educational background revolves around studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Tribal Historic Preservation Office
The THPO program pursues, evaluates, and determines necessary response for our tribe's areas of interest in aboriginal, historical, and present-day Shawnee lands. These areas cover over twenty-five (25) different states. These states include counties or sites in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In 2002, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe completed and submitted an application for assuming State Historic Preservation Office responsibilities to the US Department of Interior, the National Park Service, and the National Center of Cultural Resources. By 2004, the Tribe was granted THPO status; and subsequently, became the forty-fifth (45th) tribe in the United States to assume this status over historic preservation duties previously held in the state's responsibility.
As a Tribal Historic Preservation Office, it is our staff's responsibility to correspond, research, and consult with any agency with a federally-funded or federally-permitted project in any of the Tribe's areas of interest during the preliminary stages of planning. Monthly, the Tribe's THPO staff receives, at least, thirty (30) letters and two hundred (200) emails concerning projects and case notifications that fall beneath NHPA Section 106, TCNS (Tower Construction Notification System), and NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.)
THPO Officer (Section 106 / NAGPRA)
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6243
Work Cell: (405) 432-9078
THPO Specialist (TCNS)
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6312
Devon Frazier (hired August 2016) is an enrolled Absentee Shawnee tribal member with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (History, Political Science & Anthropology) from Oklahoma Christian University.
Ashley Brokeshoulder (hired May 2015) is an enrolled Absentee Shawnee tribal member with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Texas Tech University.
The Absentee Shawnee Gift Shop attempts to provide handmade or Native-inspired products for our tribal members and other regional customers. Over inventory ranges from Pendleton goods to El Paso and Serape items; beadwork, silver jewelry, artwork and music CDs; etc. Additionally, the Gift Shop has a wide variety of merchandise printed with the AST logo... t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles, towels, lapel pins, iron-on patches, and more!
In December 2018, a smaller second gift shop opened at the Little Axe Health Center lobby! Our department is thrilled about this expansion as its location is of greater convenience for some of our tribal members. Plans for a more permanent presence and larger capacity for merchandise at Little Axe Health Center should be coming later in 2019.
Shawnee Campus Gift Shop open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Little Axe Health Center Gift Shop open Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Please contact Merry Rodriguez or our office for any questions.
Gift Shop Staff
Merry Rodriguez Aliyah Shields
Gift Shop Manager Gift Shop Sales Associate
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6310
Merry Rodriguez (hired May 2015) is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians. Between the United States Postal Service and child education, Merry has over twenty years of career experience for management and public relations.
Aliyah Shields (hired September 2019) is Absentee Shawnee and Kickapoo. Aliyah currently attends school at a local college and hopes to use her education to help her tribes. She has a wealth of knowledge
The Absentee Shawnee Library is funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) basic grant. It currently boasts a collection of over one thousand (1,000) materials ranging from books, reference and research items, DVDs, magazines and music CDs. Children books, hand-puppets, and planned language games are used in our staff's visits to the AST Building Blocks and After-School programs. At your library, there is a comfortable seating area for viewing movies on-site; and two public computers with internet access and printing capabilities. Additionally, the AST Library has few non-circulation books and pamphlets regarding information on Shawnee language.
Open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., or later by appointment only. Please contact our office for any questions concerning the Tribe's library and how its resources can benefit you.
(405) 275-4030 ext. 6414