Cultural Preservation Department
“Keeping Eyes on the Future with Hearts in the Past!”
Our department staff seeks to appropriately educate tribal members, AST employees, and other visitors on the unique identity of the Absentee Shawnee people through lectures, discussions, workshops, classes and demonstrations. All the while maintaining working relationships with follow tribes.
We aim to maintain, preserve, and protect the Tribe’s traditions, language, and ancestral homelands through our programs and involvement with our supporters.
Lastly, our department strives to celebrate, honor, and foster the Absentee Shawnee Tribe’s history, heritage, growth, cultural pride and unity as a people. May we be li-si-wi-nwi! Ne-yi-wa!
The Cultural Preservation Department currently operates three programs: Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), Absentee Shawnee Gift Shop, and Absentee Shawnee Tribal Library. Please call our office or revisit this webpage in the future for new programs and tribal membership opportunities, such as Language or Heritage Paraprofessionals.
Cultural Preservation Director (NAGPRA)
Carol Butler (hired December 2019) is an enrolled member of the Sac & Fox Nation and Absentee Shawnee descendant. She received her Bachelor of Science in Geography from the University of Oklahoma. Carol has an extensive background in cultural preservation fields, especially in service to tribal entities, with a variety of commendable certifications.
Maureen Kay Bemo
Maureen Kay Bemo (hired May 2019) is an enrolled member of the Sac & Fox Nation. She is tasked with handling department mail distribution, purchase orders and invoices, management of cultural classes registrations, and other administrative aid tasks.
Tribal Historic Preservation Office
The Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) program pursues, evaluates, and determines necessary response for our tribe’s areas of interest in aboriginal, historical, and present-day Shawnee lands. These areas cover over twenty-five (25) different states. These states include counties or sites in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In 2002, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe completed and submitted an application for assuming State Historic Preservation Office responsibilities to the US Department of Interior, the National Park Service, and the National Center of Cultural Resources. By 2004, the Tribe was granted THPO status; and subsequently, became the forty-fifth (45th) tribe in the United States to assume this status over historic preservation duties previously held in the state’s responsibility.
As a Tribal Historic Preservation Office, it is our staff’s responsibility to correspond, research, and consult with any agency with a federally-funded or federally-permitted project in any of the Tribe’s areas of interest during the preliminary stages of planning. Monthly, the Tribe’s THPO staff receives, at least, thirty (30) letters and two hundred (200) emails concerning projects and case notifications that fall beneath NHPA Section 106, TCNS (Tower Construction Notification System), and NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.) As of Spring 2020, there is no designated NAGPRA Coordinator; and these duties are delegated and shared between the Cultural Preservation Director and THPO staff.
Devon Frazier (hired August 2016) is an enrolled Absentee Shawnee tribal member. She has a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (History, Political Science & Anthropology) from Oklahoma Christian University. As the tribal historic preservation officer (THPO), Devon submits the application(s), annual and final report(s) for the Tribal Historic Preservation grants used to fund their program.
The Absentee Shawnee Gift Shops attempt to provide handmade or Native-inspired products for our tribal members and other regional customers.
Our inventory ranges from Pendleton, Minnetonka, and NuTrendz to El Paso and Serape items; beadwork, silver jewelry, artwork and music CDs; etc. Consignment items are also for sale in the gift shops; availability of these merchandises can be discussed with the Gift Shop manager and Cultural Preservation Director. Additionally, the Gift Shops has a wide variety of merchandise printed with the AST logo... t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles, towels, lapel pins, iron-on patches, and more!
Shawnee Campus Gift Shop open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Little Axe Health Center Gift Shop open Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday (tribal payday weeks) from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Please contact Merry Rodriguez or our office for any questions, comments or suggestions for the AST Gift Shops.
Gift Shops Staff
Gift Shops Manager
Merry Rodriguez (hired May 2015) is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians. Between the United States Postal Service and child education, Merry has over twenty years of career experience for management and public relations. As the gift shops manager, she works alongside the Cultural Preservation Director on the upkeep of all inventories and sales.
The Absentee Shawnee Library is funded through two grants (basic and enhanced) with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS.) It currently boasts a collection of over one thousand (1,000) materials ranging from books, reference and research items, DVDs, magazines and music CDs.
Children books, hand-puppets, and planned language games are used in our staff’s visits to the AST Building Blocks and After-School programs. At your library, there is a comfortable seating area for viewing movies on-site; and two public computers with internet access and printing capabilities. Additionally, the AST Library has few non-circulation books and pamphlets regarding information on Shawnee language.
Lastly, our Absentee Shawnee Tribal Librarian is also the coordinator of the yearly IndigeNerd! Native Arts Festival and Comic Con event, planned annually for Fourth of July weekend.
Open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., or later by scheduled appointment. Please contact our office for any questions or comments concerning the Tribe’s library and how its resources can benefit you.
Tribal Library Technician (Librarian)