Native American Artist, Chief, Oklahoma Legislator Haney Dies

Enoch Kelly Haney, Native American artist, head of Seminole Nation and Oklahoma state legislature, has died aged 81

OKLAHOMA CITY — Enoch Kelly Haney, a Native American artist, head of the Seminole Nation and state legislator for the state of Oklahoma, has died at age 81.

Haney’s death was announced Saturday by assistant chief of the Seminole Nation, Brian Palmer. A cause of death was not immediately released.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Seminole Nation awoke to the news of Chief Kelly Haney’s passing. An inspiration to many, an accomplished artist, his work at the state and later as a chef highlighted his career, but his greatest achievement is that of the family. Keep his family in prayer and may they find comfort in knowing that the Seminole Nation and Indian Country mourns his loss,” Palmer said in a statement on Facebook.

In a tweet on Saturday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said Haney’s “contributions to our state are tremendous.”

Haney, who recently lived in Norman, grew up in Seminole. His grandfather was the chief of the Seminole tribe in the 1940s.

Haney, a Democrat, was a Methodist minister before entering politics in 1978 as the then-Lieutenant’s co-chair. gov. George Nigh’s first of four successful campaigns for governor.

Haney served in the State House and Senate from 1980-2002 and chaired the Senate Credit Committee from 1994-2002.

He unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2002 and was elected chief chief of the Seminole Nation in 2005. His 17-foot sculpture “The Guardian,” a towering statue of a Native American, was placed atop the Capitol dome in 2002.

In a 2014 interview with The Oklahoman, Haney said his art was rooted in his heritage.

“My grandfather and father were great storytellers, so I have the ability to tell stories, about indigenous people and their histories, and so on. So I guess in a way I’m still the keeper of the traditions,” Haney said.

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