Two Nez Perce Tribe elders who have devoted their lives to the good of their people were honored this week by the tribe’s senior advisory board and senior citizens center.
Wilfred “Scotty” Scott, 89, and Mary Jane “Tootsie” Souther, 84, were named the Nez Perce Tribe male and female Elders of the Year on Tuesday. Both were presented a certificate and a blue Pendleton blanket in thanks for their service to the tribe.
Neither Scott nor Souther could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Scott, one of the founding members of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee in 1974, was lauded by Arthur Broncheau, the senior liaison for the executive committee, for his “willing heart for everything that he does” involving tribal activities, local powwows and travels to historical Nez Perce sites in Montana and Idaho. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and has worked extensively with tribal veterans.
When presented with his gifts, Scott said he wanted wife Bessie’s name added to the certificate. Bessie Scott is suffering some medical problems and Scott said she has received “excellent care” from her family and caregivers.
“She’s been my guiding light,” Scott said of his wife. “She’s been my chief all my life. Every place we’ve been, she’s been there with me. Right now we’re having a tough time, but it’s going to be OK.”
Souther, who said she had not been to one of the senior events since March, was surprised by the honor.
“I want to tell all of you I love you and really appreciate just to be recognized as an elder,” she said. “I never thought, and praise the Lord, that I got up to this age.”
Broncheau praised Souther for her “unselfish service” to the Nez Perce people. Both she and Scott were elected overwhelmingly by a majority of the seniors, Broncheau said.
As they sat side-by-side while pictures were taken and congratulations offered, Scott leaned over to Souther and said: “At least we won’t challenge the election and demand a recount.”
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