Betty Nixon, one of the original founders and past chairman of the board for the Mid-America All-Indian Center, died Sunday night.
She was 84 years old.
A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Glenville Bible Baptist Church, 4604 S. Seneca.
Mrs. Nixon was born Nov. 28, 1928 near Anadarko, Okla.
A Kiowa, she was taught the Indian ways by her grandmother, Mary Buffalo. Her grandfather was Kiowa Chief Touhason who led the Kiowas in signing the Little Arkansas Peace Treaty of 1865. She was also related to Kiowa Chief Satanta, considered by East Coast journalists in the late 19th century as the “Orator of the Plains.”
In the Kiowa tradition it is the role of the grandparents, aunts and uncles to teach children, with the major training coming from the grandparents. Her mother, Alice Ahtapety, was a homemaker and taught Nixon many of her sewing and cooking techniques. Her father, Homer Buffalo, was a semi-professional baseball player and cowboy, game warden and historian for the Kiowa tribe in Anadarko.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Nixon played a role in preserving arts and crafts indigenous to the Plains tribes. She was a master artist through her bead and buckskin work in the Kansas State Historical Society’s folk arts apprentice program and served on the folk arts advisory panel, often traveling throughout Kansas for the society’s special events and programs.
Until her retirement, Mrs. Nixon, worked as a guidance adviser for the Wichita public schools. In 1992, she told The Eagle that her goal was to educate urban American Indians about their culture and heritage. At the same time, she wanted non-Indians to gain a greater understanding of the culture. She was concerned that the values and traditions of the American Indians were being lost.
“I learned traditional beadwork and cooking," Nixon told The Eagle in 1992. "My grandmother would take us into the woods and tell us what plants to use. For instance the roots from soap weed could be used for shampoo. If we had a rash or mosquito bites, she would look for toadstools and dry them. Then she would crack them open and take the gray powder and rub them on our hands. She’d always tell us, ‘Don’t touch or taste. They are poisonous.’ "
She made her own moccasins, buckskin dresses and leggings. Because so few people know how to do these crafts, she was often hired to do the work for others.
“From my perspective, we have lost a great tradition bearer,” said Jennie Chin, executive director of the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. “She was one of the people who really carried on the oral traditions and traditional arts. She was willing to share that with other people and show the similarities and differences between cultures. And, on a very personal level, she was a delightful person to work with. I am glad I knew her.”
She is preceded in death by her parents: Homer Sampson Yeagtaupt Buffalo Tabbytite and Alice Ahtapety; and two sons: Everett Wayman Nixon and Allen Eugene Nixon.
She is survived by her husband, Everett E. Nixon; son, Scott and Theresa Nixon; and daughters Sheri L. and West Antes and Virginia and Michael Seal; 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.