The Carlisle Indian School Project is proud to have the leadership and support of an active Board of Directors, whose expertise and background in Native American business, culture and advocacy make them leaders in their respective fields.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Sandra is descended from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. She has been an advocate for Indian issues both nationally and internationally. She has been a lifetime member of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) since 1969, serving on several committees and volunteering at convention events. Beyond her activities at NCAI, she served on a White House committee during the Clinton administration, the Urban Indian Policy Coalition, convened by the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to prepare a report documenting the status of off-reservation Indians. She served as a member of the American Indian Advisory Committee to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which was instrumental in developing strategies and passing resolutions within the Party structure to solidify Party support for tribal sovereignty and propose the formation of an American Indian Caucus. During her tenure at a faith-based non-profit, Sandra represented her organization at the UN and the Organization of American States during the consultation process for both versions of the Indigenous Rights Declarations. Now retired, she is Chairperson of the Eastern PA Committee on Native American Ministries of the United Methodist Churches, a board member of the Circle Legacy Center, a local Indian advocacy organization located in Lancaster, PA, and is President of the Carlisle Indian School Project. A descendant of 2 students who were in the first class of the Indian School, she enjoys leading tours of the school campus on the Barracks with her Circle Legacy colleague and dear friend, MaryAnn Robins, Onandaga, a fellow descendant.
Edward Hall joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Division of Transportation in January of 1992 as a Transportation Specialist. His role is to manage programs related to economic development, technical assistance and training for tribal governments and communities. He is the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ coordinator for tourism and has helped establish the BIA’s outreach and support to tribal capacity building for tribal tourism and trade. He was instrumental in the BIA’s involvement in the development of the National Scenic Byways Program and the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration. He represents the BIA as the point of contact on Interagency Memorandums of Understanding with the Western States Tourism Policy Council, Southeast Tourism Policy Council, National Geographic Society and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA). Mr. Hall was appointed to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in 1993 and helped establish the Inter-Tribal Transportation Association and the TRB committee on Native American Transportation Issues ABE80. He was one of the tribal representatives to the White House Conference on Tourism in 1995 where the development of the American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC) was discussed as an essential resource for tribal tourism development. He has been instrumental in supporting the AITC now in its 19th year as the tribal tourism forum. He also helped to form and develop the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) as the professional American Indian tourism organization representing Indian Country to the tourism industry in 2002. He has advised and supported AIANTA as a partner to the BIA in providing technical assistance, outreach and coordination for tribal tourism development and capacity building.
Mr. Hall works as an intergovernmental coordinator connecting other Federal, state and local governments together with tribal governments and organizations to further communication and partnerships for project development and planning. He has helped position AIANTA and Indian Country as part of America’s tourism industry and believes that tribal tourism is a platform for diplomacy and education as well as economic development for tribal communities and cultures. Central to that is the involvement of tribal governments and communities to providing guidance and perspective on policy decisions. On May 10th, 2012, AIANTA and tribal communities were recognized as part of the President’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy. On September 25th, 2012, Department of Interior, Secretary Salazar signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AIANTA further recognizing the importance of tribal engagement across public lands and waters as well as supporting tribal tourism capacity building. On September 3rd, 2015 he presented to the XXIII Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism in Lima, Peru on “Community rural tourism, native communities and vulnerable populations”.
Mr. Hall is a member of the Arikara and Hidatsa Nations, enrolled on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Awards / Positions
- Board of Directors, Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA)
- Vice President, Carlisle Indian School Project
- Leadership Council of the George Washington University, Department of Tourism and Hospitality and International Institute of Tourism Studies
- Guest Lecturer to the New York University / Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism on indigenous tourism development perspectives
- 2012 Tim Wapato Public Advocate Award, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
- Member, Native American Rights Fund (NARF) National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and Vice President, Carlisle Indian School Project
Barbara Christy was born in Phoenixville, PA at the Valley Forge Military Hospital, and grew up in Malvern, PA. Barbara worked at various companies for a span of twenty-seven years in accounting related functions, as well as a group and individual life claims examiner where she also processed NASDAC stock transfers. She semi-retired in 2013 to continue her pursuits in Native American Music. She is a singer, song-writer and flautist for Spirit Wing and The RedKrozBluez Band. Nominated for six Native American Music Awards, her bands have traveled around the USA performing at various venues. She is on the Committee of Native American Ministries for the United Methodist Church, and performs and speaks at many churches and schools. Barbara is also a member of the American Indian Society, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Eastern Woodland Pathways dance and educational group. In addition, she is also the Treasurer of the Circle Legacy Center, a Native American Advocacy group located in Lancaster, PA.
J.D. Colbert (Chickasaw/Creek) is president and CEO of Holisso Hakv Inc. a banking and mergers/acquisitions consulting firm based in Prosper, TX. Mr. Colbert has served as Executive Director of the Chickasaw Nation Small Business Development Center. He was President and CEO of Native American Bank and a Founder and Executive Vice President of Bank2. He was the Founder, President and CEO of the North American Native Bankers Association. Colbert has extensive experience in banking throughout his professional career, and also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Economic Development for the BIA and also gained valuable experience as a tribal administrator. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma and earned a master’s degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University and another master’s degree in organizational development from Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. McCaleb has served on the Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. Board of Directors since March of 2003 and as its Chairman since March of 2007. Mr. McCaleb was named Chickasaw Ambassador at Large in early 2013 and was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2014. Prior to this he was appointed by President George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs. His public service includes ten years as Secretary of Transportation for the State of Oklahoma and eight years in the State House of Representatives.
Mr. McCaleb is a 1957 graduate of Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He was in private practice as an engineering consultant and real estate developer for 26 years. He continues his service to the Chickasaw Nation and the State of Oklahoma being actively involved in economic development and transportation issues.
William Gollnick is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. He served his tribe for forty years in a number of professional capacities. He is currently the Tribal Administrator for the Tejon Tribe of Indians in Bakersfield, CA. He has held this post for the last three years.
Gollnick has very fond memories of how his maternal grandmother preserved a picture of her husband as a miler which showed him crossing the finish line with his time written across the bottom. It was a source of pride that he had bested Jim Thorpe’s record in the mile. Although Edward Metoxen was certainly not the all-around athlete that Jim Thorpe was, simply having one’s name uttered in the same breath would be exceptional for any athlete, and particularly so for a native one.
Gollnick’s Father-In-Law, Levi Webster, known as Tall Feather, was another excellent Oneida runner. His expertise, however, was distance. He competed while in the Army during the First World War. He ran the Boston, competed against mounted riders, relay teams and virtually all takers. He famously ran from Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL in less than 19 hours. He ran 50 miles on his fiftieth birthday. William Gollnick’s son, James, seemed to benefit from these genes and was successful in placing in the Wisconsin state track meet in both the 300 hurdles and 1,600 meter 4X4 events.
William’s athletic pursuits were three years as a wrestler. He graduated high school in June of 1968 and went active in the U.S. Marine Corps in September of that year. Gollnick enlisted in the middle of America’s participation in the Viet Nam War. Ironically, a series of events resulted in Gollnick being sent to Camp Lejeune, NC after artillery school. Shortly after he reported to LeJeune, he was assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, Tenth Marines attached to 2d Battalion 8th Marines in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He served most of the remainder of his hitch there. He was honorably discharged as a corporal E-4, and began his college career 10 days later.
Gollnick completed a bachelor’s degree in Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He also holds a master’s degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Gollnick has received numerous awards and served in posts appointed by three different governors and two U.S. Presidents. He served as a Presidential Delegate to the White House Conference on Indian Education and as Secretary of the National Advisory Council on Indian Educatoin. Gollnick’s life comprises a chapter of a recently released book entitled, “Seventh Generation Earth Ethics,” written by Professor Patty Loew of the University of Wisconsin Madison faculty.
Gollnick and his wife Genevieve (Genny) have three children and raised three nieces as well. The youngest, James, is now completing his law degree at the Marquette University Law School. Genny also holds a Harvard master’s degree in Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning Environments. She is now a etired school administrator who is spending most of her time as a grandmother and great-grandmother.
Angie Brus has served as the Executive Director of The Carlisle Indian School Project since November 2016. She has guided the organization in gaining its 501(c)3 status, developing strategy, budgeting and financial reporting, editing marketing materials, organizing fundraising events, completing state registration requirements, identifying and working with the selected organization to accomplish a feasibility study, and creating presentations for awareness campaigns and proposals for potential donors.
Angie has also worked with the Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce as a consultant since September 2012, supporting the tribe’s initiatives through project management services, financial reporting and budgeting projects, and performing investment due diligence.
She earned a Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of Oklahoma in 1994, and received her designation as a Certified Public Accountant in 1995. She began her career as an auditor for Arthur Andersen, LLP, where she gained valuable experience in a variety of industries. She also served as CFO and Treasurer for a regional television network, and has owned her own CPA firm for the past seven years.
Lt. Governor Jefferson Keel
Jefferson Keel, Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, is a retired U.S. Army officer with over 20 years active duty service. His combat experience included two extended tours of service in Viet Nam as an Infantryman, where he received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, two purple hearts and numerous other awards and decorations for heroism. Lt. Governor Keel has always proven himself as an effective leader. He is a former Airborne Ranger, and served as an instructor in the elite U.S. Army Rangers. As an Infantry platoon sergeant, platoon leader and the commander of a large artillery battery, he gained valuable and extensive leadership and management experience.
Lt. Governor Keel earned his Bachelor degree from East Central University and a Master of Science degree from Troy University. He also completed post graduate studies at East Central and East Texas Universities.
He has management experience in the private sector and tribal programs and operations. He is extremely proud of his Native American heritage and often assists other tribes and groups in cultural and historic preservation activities. Lt. Governor Keel is firmly committed to the service of Indian people and actively supports their desire to become self-reliant. The welfare of the Chickasaw people is his first priority. He is keenly aware of the roles and responsibilities expected of tribal leaders and earnestly believes in the policy of “helping our people through honorable public service.”
A highly respected tribal leader, Lt. Governor Keel served his two terms as the President of the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and largest tribal organization. He was appointed by Senator Harry Reid to serve as a Commissioner on the Tribal Law and Order Commission. He has served as Chair for the Tribal Interior Budget Committee, serves on the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee, Indian Health Service (IHS) Advisory Committee, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee and Self-Governance Advisory Committee.
Lt. Governor Keel is a member of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes. He serves on the Board of Regents for Bacone College, East Central University Foundation Board of Directors, National Indian Child Welfare Association Board of Directors, Native American Rights Fund Board of Directors, National Native American Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee Co- Chair, and Carlisle Indian School Project Advisory Council Member. He is a member of the Gideons, a Master Mason, a graduate of Leadership Ada and active in his church and the community. Lt. Governor Keel and his wife, Carol, have three children and eight grandchildren.
If you would like to contact the Office of the Lt. Governor, please call (580) 436-7232.
Kevin Brown “Red Eagle” was elected Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe in October 2013. As Chairman, Brown is responsible for maintaining the sovereignty that the Mohegan Tribe fought hundreds of years for, overseeing its numerous business entities and ensuring the well-being of its more than 2,100 Tribal citizens. As Chairman, Brown also serves as Chairman of the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) Management Board which oversees gaming entities across the country, as well as two professional sports teams. Under his leadership, the Mohegan Tribe has made monumental steps forward in its business growth and expanded its footprint worldwide including the future Inspire Integrated Resort in South Korea and a multi-million dollar non-gaming tourist destination in southeastern Connecticut, creating hundreds of jobs and driving economic growth in the region.
A native of Montville, Connecticut, Brown proudly served in the United States Army, retiring as a highly-decorated Colonel. His 25-year career includes extensive experience in strategic planning, combat leadership, and leading large military and civilian organizations while managing multimillion dollar budgets and forging international relationships.
Brown is a Doctoral Candidate in Security Studies from Kansas State University, and also earned a Master of Arts in Public Diplomacy from Norwich University, a Master of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Brown serves on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and Channel 3 Kids Camp, and is the Chairman of the American Heart Association Southeastern Connecticut Heart Walk and the forthcoming National Native American Veterans Memorial at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. He has been awarded the National Indian Gaming Association’s prestigious John Kieffer Sovereignty Award; both the Military Community Support Award and the Board of Directors Special Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and the Annual Outstanding Leadership Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
Emil Her Many Horses is an Associate Curator in the office of Museum Scholarship at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Emil Her Many Horses specializes in the central Plains cultures. Mr. Her Many Horses is a member of the Oglala Lakota nation of South Dakota and served as lead curator for the inaugural permanent exhibition, “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World”.
Mr. Her Many Horses served as co-curator for the exhibition titled, Identity by Design: Tradition, Change and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses and served as the lead curator for the Our Peoples community exhibitions featuring the history of the Chiricahua Apache of New Mexico and the Blackfeet from Montana.
Mr. Her Many Horses’ also curated the exhibition titled, A Song for the Horse Nation which opened at the NMAI’s George Gustuv Heye Center in New York City in November of 2009 and NMAI’s mall museum on October 29, 2011.
Emil’s current exhibition titled, Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains opened in March 2016 at NMAI’s George Gustuv Heye Center.
Annetta Abbott has over 25 years experience in marketing and event coordination. She has a degree in Public Relations/Journalism from Oklahoma State University. Abbott is the current President-Elect for the State Board of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma and is also the Vice Chairman for the Oklahoma City Chapter of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICCO). She is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
During her time with the AICCO, she has served as the coordinator of the Gathering Business Summit, which helps to provide networking, marketing and business matchmaking opportunities for Native-owned businesses in the state. Through her work with the Chamber, she helps to coordinate programming, membership drives and scholarship awards.
She was recently named the Outstanding Member of the OKC Chapter of AICCO and also completed the Leadership Native Oklahoma course.
Abbott helped to organize and served as the Executive Director for the Jim Thorpe Native American Games, which brought in over 1700 Native American athletes to participate in 10 sports. She worked with the Nike N7 staff to help coordinate their sports summit at the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, which helps to promote the benefits of sports with Native American students. N7 is the Native American brand of Nike.
She serves on the Advisory Council for the Carlisle Indian School Project which is a national non-profit organization created to build a heritage center and permanent memorial to the Native American students who attended Carlisle Boarding School in Pennsylvania.
She served on the local Title VII Education Committee that focuses on the best ways to use Indian Education Grants in local schools and was asked to consult and serve on a panel with the National Indian Education Association on the benefits of sports in public schools.
Abbott is the CEO of her own company, Abbott Sports Marketing. She has worked in minor league baseball, college level athletics, radio and television sales and marketing with non-profits.
Xavier Neira is an Oklahoma Director of Development for Manhattan Construction Company, which is part of a larger group of construction-related companies that include Manhattan Construction Company, Manhattan Road and Bridge Company, Cantera Concrete Company and Manhattan Pipeline. Manhattan Construction is the largest of the companies and is Oklahoma’s first corporation, established in 1896. Mr. Neira is a responsible for duties associated with procurement and development of new projects. Additionally, Mr. Neira is responsible for government affairs and community relations.
Mr. Neira began his career at Manhattan Construction Company as a Project Engineer in 1996, working in the field on various construction job sites, and later became the Computer Systems Manager for the parent company, Rooney Holdings, Inc. in 1998. He led the implementation effort of an Oracle accounting and human resources system. Mr. Neira rejoined construction operations in October of 2007 and has been responsible for over $2.0 billion dollars in procurement of new work.
Mr. Neira has been involved in politics at the State and Federal level since 2003. His work includes work for
the Republican National Committee as a campaign volunteer and Spanish Language Media Surrogate. As
such, he has taken part in a number of radio and television interviews and participated in Telemundo’s Encrucijada Migratoria National Debate and gave several interviews for Fox News – America Live Show with Megyn Kelly in 2004. He served on Hispanic Advisory Boards for President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney.
At the State level, Mr. Neira served as Tourism Commissioner for District 4 and served as Chairman of the Transportation Transition Committee as Governor Fallin took office in 2004. He also served on other groups, such as the 100 Ideas for Oklahoma Committee, under Speaker Cargill.
Mr. Neira holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University (1991). He was born in Mexico and became a United States citizen almost 40 years ago and has been a proud Oklahoma resident for the past 21 years. He is married with three children and lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
Mr. Neira believes in the power of economic development and giving back to the community. He is involved with organizations that promote business, education and community well-being, through his active participation on several boards and organizations at local, state and national levels.
CURRENT BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND AUTHORITIES:
State Chamber of Oklahoma – Executive Board Member Greater Oklahoma City Chamber – Board of Directors Oklahoma Hall of Fame – Executive Board Member Oklahoma City Museum of Art – Board of Trustees
Last Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America – Board Member
Children’s Hospital Foundation – Board of Advocates
Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools – Board Member and Executive Committee Leadership Oklahoma – Board of Advisors Member
Infant Crisis Center – Board of Advisors
Downtown Rotary Club – Oklahoma City
PAST BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND AUTHORITIES:
Oklahoma Tourism Commission – Commissioner 2017
Sam Noble Museum of Natural History – Board of Visitors 2017
John W. Rex Charter Elementary School – Board Member 2017
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma – Food Bank Foundation – Board of Directors 2014 Teach for America – Board Member 2012
YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City – Board Member 2015
deadCenter Film Festival – Chairman, Board Member 2014
Leadership OKC – Board Member 2012-2015
Educare – 2007-2014
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Advisory Board, 2008-2009
Task Force for the Advancement of Hispanic Students in Higher Education, 2007-2009 State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Chairman of the Board of Directors, 2008
South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce – Board Member, 2007-2008
Latino Community Development Agency – President of the Board of Directors, 2007 Leadership Tulsa, Board of Directors, 2007
Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Board Member, Past Chairman 2005-2006 Republican National Hispanic Assembly, National Treasurer, 2006-2007
Tulsa County Criminal Justice Planning and Procedures Council, 2006
Cheryl Stevens has served as Grants Office Director for the Oneida Nation for 24 of the last 27 years she has worked for the Oneida Nation. She oversees the operations of the Oneida Nation’s Grants Office in the development of grant applications, including grant compliance for the pursuit of external funding for all programs within the tribe. This includes developing and maintaining office budgets, strategic planning, databases, research funding sources, overseeing the development of fund raising plans and writing proposals to increase the funds of the organization and analyzing current market and governmental policies to assess national funding trends. She currently serves as a liaison with federal/state representatives and other local organizations on issues regarding grant issues. Cheryl is also the Oneida Nations Administrator for various on-line systems such as SAM, GRANTS.gov, Grant Solutions.com and other tools for grant submissions, reporting and modifications for grant applications.
Cheryl also carries the responsibility of being the Executive Manager of the Oneida Youth Leadership Institute, a tribal mechanism for fundraising, which utilizes the tribe’s 7871 tax-exempt status. The purpose of Oneida Youth Leadership Institute is to operate and support programs and activities which promote leadership qualities in Oneida youth, and to solicit charitable donations to fund such programs and activities that promote and foster leadership qualities in Oneida youth though pathways of heritage and culture, healthy minds and bodies, leadership and citizenship, academic excellence and entrepreneurship.
Cheryl earned a Bachelor of Business Economics from Mt. Senario College in 1991 and a Certification of Accounting from Haskell Junior College in 1983. She is married to Ernie Stevens, Jr., and together, they have 5 children and 15 grandchildren.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Mr. Busey is a member of both the Cherokee Nation and the Delaware Tribe. After playing college baseball and earning his Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University, the AV rated attorney practiced law regionally and internationally for 25 years, specializing in Native American, commercial, corporate, government, public finance, and contracting law. Since he founded DRG in 2002, the company has become one of the largest defense contractors based in the region. Mr. Busey has been a moderator or speaker at over 100 CLE and business seminars, serves on several boards of directors, and is active in civic and church organizations.
Professional Service, Awards and Accolades:
- Documented over $1 billion of commercial loans and acted as legal counsel on over $1 billion of public finance bond issues during 17 years of representing large regional financial institutions.
- Busey Group of Companies, Founder, Chairman, CEO
- Delaware Resource Group, Founder, Chairman, CEO
- Professorial lecturer, American University, Washington DC
- Adjunct professor, OCU School of Law and School of Business
- S. Small Business Administration Oklahoma Business Person of the Year, 2010
- Chairman’s Award from Oklahoma City University, Meinders School of Business, Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor 2013
- OCU and United Methodist Conference Bishop Milhouse Award with Cathy Busey for Outstanding Community Service 2015
- AV Rated Preeminent Attorney by Martindale Hubbell since 1998
- Member Oklahoma Bar Association
- Member Oklahoma Governor’s Business Roundtable
- Trustee, Oklahoma City University
- OCU Meinders School of Business Deans Advisory Board
- Oklahoma City University’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Recipient, 2017
- Co-Founder with Cathy Busey, El Sistema Oklahoma
Martha Redbone (Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw descent) is one of today’s most vital voices in American Roots music. A multi award-winning musician, the charismatic songstress is celebrated for her tasty gumbo of roots music embodying the folk and mountain blues sounds of her childhood in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky mixed with the eclectic grit of her teenage years in pre-gentrified Brooklyn. With the power of her gospel singing African-American father’s voice and the determined spirit of her Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw mother, Redbone broadens all boundaries of Americana. Her latest CD “The Garden of Love- Songs of William Blake”, produced by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder/Grammy Winner John McEuen is an unexpected twist– “a brilliant collision of cultures” (New Yorker) features Martha’s magnificent voice, Blake’s immortal words and a masterful cornucopia of roots music (folk, country, piedmont blues, gospel, bluegrass, soul and traditional Southeastern Native American).
Redbone and her long-term collaborator, pianist Aaron Whitby are called “the little engine that could” by their “band of NYC’s finest blues and jazz musicians” (Larry Blumenthal-Wall Street Journal). From grassroots beginnings with residencies at the original Living Room NYC, then Joe’s Pub and nationally at powwows across Indian Country in support of her debut album “Home of the Brave” (“Stunning album, the kind of woman who sets trends”-Billboard) Redbone has built a passionate fan base with her mesmerizing presence and explosive live shows. Her album “Skintalk” is described as the soulful sound of “Earth, Wind and Fire on the Rez”(Native Peoples magazine) and is recognized as an example of Contemporary Native American music in the Library Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The Redbone/Whitby team’s newest work is Daughter of the Hills, a devised, interdisciplinary musical theater work that brings to light an important piece of American history that has never been told. Inspired by the lives of Redbone’s family in the hills of coalmining Appalachia, Daughter of the Hills is the journey of a woman, Red, returning to her homeland in Black Mountain and the coalmines of Kentucky where her family has dwelled for centuries. As a contemporary multi-racial Cherokee/Shawnee and African American family, they are permanently bonded to their culture, identity and the mountain despite its violent past and the ever-changing laws of the land that attempt to extinguish them. Commissioned by Joe’s Pub and the Public Theater NY Voices, Redbone is a recipient of the NEFA National Theater Project Creation and Touring Grant and National Performance Network Creation Fund and Lincoln Center. Redbone is a 2015/16 Fellow of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.
Alongside her career as a recording artist and songwriter Martha Redbone has maintained a steady involvement with causes she believes in. Ms. Redbone is contracted by The Department of Indian Education- Louisiana, LaFourche Parish and teaches Southeastern Traditional Singing Workshop for the United Houma Nation’s Bayou Healers Cultural Enrichment Camp program.
Martha has given talks on subjects ranging from Indigenous rights to the role of the arts in politics and Native American Identity at many institutions including New York University, the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to name a few. Ms. Redbone includes workshops and motivational talks with grade school children as part of her touring schedule on numerous reservations including Red Lake, MN, Cherokee, NC, Yuma AZ and Menominee, WI, among others. An exemplary ambassador for both Native and African-American Youth for the National HIV/Aids Partnership, she was awarded the Red Ribbon Award for Outstanding Leadership presented on World AIDS Day at the United Nations in 2005. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the communities of the United Houma Nation on the Gulf Coast, Martha single-handedly helped generate publicity that raised over $30,000. Redbone also performed with Bonnie Raitt and the late Floyd Red Crow Westerman and helped raise over $130,000 in scholarships for the Heart of the Earth Foundation where 12 outstanding Native American students who have overcome adversity receive full tuition to study in higher education. Currently Martha advocates for Why Hunger’s Artists Against Hunger and Poverty program which raises and awareness of poverty and hunger in the United States, with particular attention to Appalachia in Martha’s instance. Redbone supports the Man Up Campaign, the global youth movement to eradicate violence against women and girls for whom she served as the indigenous affairs consultant and creative advisor. She is particularly proud of her accomplishment in having the Campaign’s Board of Directors include an Indigenous North American contingent (independent of the USA) to the roll call of 50 countries taking part in their Youth Leadership Summit held at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Redbone is currently an Advisory Board member of The Carlisle Indian School Project.