OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – People from all over the state spent Saturday afternoon remembering one of the most influential Native Americans of the last half century, Enoch Kelly Haney.
“Chief Haney was truly a great, great man in every sense of the word. It felt like there was nothing he couldn’t do,” said Principal Chief David Hill, of the Muscogee Nation.
On Saturday afternoon at the First American’s Museum in Oklahoma City, family, friends, former governors and Native American leaders gathered to pay their respects to former Chief of the Seminole Nation Enoch Kelly Haney.
“There is a lot of talk about servant leaders these days. He was the epitome of servant leader,” said Governor Bill Anoatubby, of the Chickasaw Nation
Haney was probably best known as a world-renowned artist.
His 17-foot “Guardian” sculpture stands on top of the Oklahoma State Capitol dome. He also helped to get the Red Earth Festival off the ground.
His memory was celebrated with the humor Haney was known for.
“When they knew I was a Haney, they said ‘Are you the one that put the statue on the Capitol?’ I said, ‘No. I’m not the one that done it. All I did was pose for it,’” said Former Principal Chief Jerry Haney, of the Seminole Nation.
But Haney was not just an artist.
He served in the National Guard and was the first full-blood Native American to serve in either house of the Oklahoma Legislature, serving in the House and Senate from 1980-2002.
Haney was instrumental in creating the First American’s Museum.
“He wrote legislation to create this museum and he constantly came back to the Capitol to ensure we did everything we could to fund it. We got it done,” said Former State Representative and Senator Anastasia Pittman.
Faith leaders remembered his kind but powerful spirit.
“He spent his life inspiring wholeness within the people, sovereignty within Native Nations, kindness between communities and demonstrated the power of a life of service, he served with humility,” said Rev. Justine Wilson, of Norman First American United Methodist Church.
“Do not think of it as goodbye, we will see each other again,” said Former Chief George Tiger, of the Muscogee Nation.
Enoch Kelly Haney was 81-years-old.