Bacone College, a tribal-owned institution in Muskogee, Oklahoma, will award four honorary degrees at its commencement ceremony May 7.
One of the women receiving an honorary degree is Elizabeth Leading Fox-Blackowl, a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, a member of the Skidi Band, and who is also Kitkehahki and Pitahaurirat.
She graduated from an Indian Boarding School in Pawnee, Oklahoma and later attended Haskell Institute before graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. Blackowl became the first female president of the Pawnee Business Council in 1995 and has now served on the council for 14 years.
The other woman up for an honorary degree is Lorraine Bacone, the widow of Everett E. Bacone, who was the grandson of Almon C. Bacone, founder of the college. She attended business college after graduating high school in 1940, and then worked for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based company. This put her in the right place to meet Everett—at a USO dance in Milwaukee—and they got married in 1946. After her children were grown, she worked at Sears Roebuck for more than 20 years.
“She has always been extremely proud of the fact that her husband was the grandson of Almon C. Bacone and that pride is shared by her four children,” according to a Bacone College press release.
Also receiving an honorary degree May 7 is Ernest Lovato, who got an Associate of Arts degree from Bacone in 1957. He is the former governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico and served on the Bacone College Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1984. Lovato is credited with helping the pueblo get $4.5 million for water and wastewater projects and establishing KIPC-FM, which aired multicultural programs. He also helped coordinate the first New Mexico Joint Conference on Indian Health and served as the president of the Santo Domingo Indian Veterans Association.
In 2002, Congressman Dan Boren was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and while there was a strong advocate for rural Oklahoma. In his freshman year, he was chosen by colleagues as the Democratic Caucus Chairman, a first for a new representative. In 2004, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Natural Resources Committee. Boren will also receive an honorary degree May 7.
Commencement begins at 2 p.m. at the Muskogee Civic Center. That morning, at 10 a.m. the official dedication ceremony will be held for The Chickasaw Warrior, a bronze statue donated to the college by alumnus Enoch Kelly Haney, Seminole, in 2010.