Native Village Youth and Education News
November, 2009   Volume 1

Ted Vaughn Receives Spirit of the Heard Award
By Native Village

Phoenix: Every year the Heard Museum honors an individual who has demonstrated personal excellence either individually or as a community leader. This year the Heard presented Yavapai elder Ted Vaughn with its 2009 Spirit of the Heard Award.  Vaughn, 81, was honored for his longtime efforts to preserve his tribe's language and culture. He is among the leading indigenous language teachers in the U.S. today.

“The Heard Museum is honored to recognize the lifetime achievements of Mr. Ted Vaughn and his grassroots efforts to preserve Yavapai language and culture,” said Heard Museum Director Frank Goodyear Jr. “Mr. Vaughn truly merits this prestigious award.”

“Mr. Vaughn was chosen, in part, because he has dedicated his life to preserving the language and culture of his tribe,” said Wayne Mitchell, Mandan//Hidatsa/Arikara, chairman of the Heard’s American Indian Advisory Committee. “He is dedicated to continuing the important task of advocating for and practicing the Yavapai language and culture, and to ensuring that the next generation continues this vital work. He is truly a role model for Indian communities and an example to others that American Indian traditions enrich all of society.”

Vaughn was presented with a Pendleton blanket, a plaque and a turquoise necklace. He will also be honored in a special photo exhibit.

Ted Vaughn is the grandson of Chieftess Viola Jimulla, the first female leader of the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe and her husband Chief Sam Jimulla. His sister was the late Yavapai Prescott Tribal President Patricia McGee. McGee also helped found of the Yuman Language Summits. Both ladies were inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame. Many believe this family history gave Vaughn the strength and moral courage to tackle the issues of language and cultural preservation.

The family legacy lives on in his son Charles Vaughn, Hualapai/Yavapai, who formerly served as chairman of the Hualapai Tribe.

Among Ted Vaughn's accomplishments:

Even during his first career, Vaughn was an advocate for tribal peoples. He worked for the IHS driving patients between Peach Springs to Phoenix. Hoping to save money and time, he earned both a commercial pilot’s and a helicopter license to transport patients. (Today, IHS regularly uses air transport to carry patients from remote tribal communities to specialty care in urban areas.)
Vaughn also set up the radiology department at the Peach Springs clinic. He used surplus Army equipment and learned to run the machines. This saved patients a two-hour drive to and from Kingman.
For more than 16 years he's worked to retain and improve Yavapai language fluency.  Charging no money, Vaughn has taught Yavapai from his grandparents’ and childhood home that he renovated with his own money. He has also funded his own research.

Vaughn co-founded the yearly Yuman Language Summit where tribe members and academics meet monthly to discuss the Yuman language and its offshoots. (The Yuman language branch includes the Yavapai, Hualapai, Havasupai, Pai Pai, Ipai, Tipai, Kumeyaay, Cocopah, Quechan and Mohave languages and tribes.) The summits also record elders’ thoughts, stories and personal histories in Yavapai for future use by tribal members.
Vaughn helped develop a project to create a standardized written format for Yavapai words in a phonetic format.
He was also one of the first people to start writing Yavapai words phonetically.
He is developing an interactive computer software program as a Yavapai language education aid.
Vaughn has been a keynote speaker at Native language conferences across the nation.
Vaughn is working with other to identify all places visited and/or inhabited by Yavapais in pre-contact times. This will ensure that Yavapai tribal interests are considered when artifacts or burials are discovered.]

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