In Memorium

The 2017 Oka Kapassa Festival was dedicated to the memory of Board members Tom Hendrix, Ellen Goode, and Robert Thrower.

Tom Hendrix

Our dear friend Tom Hendrix passed from this life on February 24th, 2017 following a brief illness. His loss has left this community with great sorrow. Tom served the Singing River and Oka Kapassa Festivals as Board Chair and later, as Board Emeritus. He was a constant advisor and supporter with his vast wealth of knowledge of the Native People he loved so dearly. Tom dedicated his life to the mission of sharing stories and preserving the cultural heritage and history of all Native Americans. He strived to educate us all so the legends never fade. His vision and commitment resulted in his beloved Wall that he built to honor his Yuchi great-great-grandmother, Te-lah-nay, who walked back to Alabama after being forcefully removed to Oklahoma. The Wall is the largest non-mortared rock wall in the United States and the largest memorial to a Native American woman. Tom wrote a book in 2000, If the Legends Fade, about his great-great-grandmother's journey home. He will be greatly missed, but many will continue to share and celebrate his legacy through the work he began and loved passionately. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Morrison Funeral Home in Central, AL. Good journey, friend.

"We all shall pass this earth; only the stones will remain." -- Tom Hendrix

Ellen Goode

We sadly announce the loss of our friend and Oka Kapassa board member, Ellen Goode.

Barbara Ellen Scott Goode passed from this life on February 8, 2017 at the age of 62, surrounded by her family and friends after a long illness. She was preceded in death by her father, C.O. Scott, her mother, Ruby Taylor Scott, and an infant sister Eleanor Gail. She is survived by James Goode, her husband of 31 years.

Ellen graduated from Bradshaw High School and the University of North Alabama with a degree in education. She was employed by the Florence City Schools and worked at Brandon and Forest Hills Elementary Schools. She also served as the Artist in Residence through the Alabama State Council on the Arts at the Children's Museum of the Shoals. Throughout her career, she was recognized as a talented artist within the Shoals community and was featured in the NOALA (April, 2012) for her corn husk creations. Her work was also displayed at the Biltmore, Southern Highland Art Guild, along the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Smithsonian Institute, and other prestigious museums, galleries and art venues.

For the past 16 years, Ellen was a board member of the Oka Kapassa Festival Committee and served as the Native American craft and artisan coordinator. As a member of the festival committee, she established close relationships with numerous artisans. She spent many hours communicating and working with them with devotion and compassion. She unselfishly endeavored to bring talented participants to the festival every year, never wanting to bring attention to herself.

Ellen had many devoted friends. Her kind, gentle heart did not hold grudges. She was a loving person to friends, animals, and strangers alike. She was a caring teacher, and she used her loving insights to serve her students and brought out the best in them. She was blessed with a sweet inner spirit that was evident in all aspects of her life-- her love for the students she served, her appreciation of nature, her creative cornhusk dolls, her drawings, her love for the Native people. Having Ellen in your life enriched and inspired all to be a better person for having known her.

She will be missed by many and will have a special place in the hearts of those who loved her. Many are blessed to be called family and friend by Ellen.

Robert Thrower

It is with great sadness that we share the tragic news of Robert Thrower's death on Tuesday afternoon July 4th, 2017. Robert served as the Poarch Creek Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). He was killed in a single-vehicle accident. Robert Thrower had a deep and abiding love of for his Tribe and a true commitment to preserving Poarch Creek history and culture. He began working officially for the Poarch Creek Tribe on July 9, 1991. He followed in the footsteps of his mother, Gail Thrower, Poarch Creek's first Tribal historian, and was respected throughout the Indian Country for his historic knowledge of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Not only was he proud to represent the Poarch Band of the Creek Indians, but he considered it an honor to serve on the United South and Eastern Tribes Culture and Heritage Committee. He served on the Committee from 2004 to 2008 and as Chairman of the USET Culture and Heritage Committee from 2008 to 2017.

Robert Thrower was a supportive friend and advisor to the Oka Kapassa Committee and Festival for over 17 years. He served on the Oka Kapassa Native American Advisory Board and continually worked to help the committee provided quality and authentic experiences for the Oka Kapassa Festival. As a historian, Robert interpreted events related to Tuscumbia in an accurate and informative manner both at the festival and on the walk from Tuscumbia Landing. He was always willing to support the Oka Kapassa Festival in a selfless and generous style by performing any tasks needed to make the event successful. Children and participants attending festival were greeted by Robert in a warm manner and provided information in a passionate way that made Native American culture come to life. Robert will be remembered as a dedicated and proud member of the Poarch Creek, using every opportunity to educate and share the stories of his tribe's rich culture and history. Oka Kapassa has lost a true friend, selfless worker, and constant advisor. He will be sorely missed by many. What Robert taught us remains and we will do our best to pass his memory and knowledge down through the generations.

Diamond Go-Sti Brown

In memory of Diamond Go-Sti Brown, sharing with students at Oka Kapassa 2015.

David Eveningthunder

The 2015 Oka Kapassa Festival was dedicated to the memory of our good friend David Eveningthunder (Shoshone) (1947 - 2015).

David was part of Oka Kapassa from the first event. He was a great artist and always pleasant and grateful to those around him. He will be greatly missed as he was a supportive and positive fixture of Oka Kapassa and the Singing River Festival for over 20 years. He was always ready and willing to support this event and enjoyed being with the people and our community. Below is a link to his website to share with others.

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This page last updated 09/05/2018.