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Oklahoma Humanities Council will recognize individuals, organizations

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Many organizations and individuals enhance Oklahoma culture with work in humanities disciplines every year. An awards dinner Saturday will honor a select few.

Sponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities Council, the third annual awards ceremony will recognize two organizations and four individuals.

"By bringing these awardees together, we're recognizing the various kinds of work that they do," said Ann Thompson, executive director of the council. "The whole point of the evening is sort of an awareness of what the humanities disciplines can do for us today."

The recipient of this year's highest honor, the Oklahoma Humanities Award, is Oklahoma artist Charles Banks Wilson. The Oklahoma native, who now lives in Arkansas, has made considerable art contributions to the state, including his collection of Oklahoma "pureblood" drawings, a depiction of 65 American Indian tribes from one tribal ancestry.

"I really think (American Indian tribes) contributed more to this honor than I did," he said. "They have contributed to the educational encouragement that the museum has made possible."

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Banks, whose paintings are displayed in the Oklahoma Capitol, is also a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, has painted portraits of celebrities and illustrated 29 books. His 2004 Woody Guthrie portrait, sponsored by Oklahoma Gazette and its readers, hangs in the Capitol rotunda.

"One of the reasons I think I've made a success in my work was I had everything an artist would want to inspire him right there in Oklahoma," he said. "I am very honored."

Other individual awards include the Community Leadership Award, which will honor Charles P. Schroeder, executive director of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Schroeder has promoted public understanding of humanities through expansion of the museum's collections and educational programs.

Teresa Potter, fifth-grade teacher at Fisher Elementary in Moore, will receive the Humanities in Education Award for incorporating humanities into classroom curriculum. Alicia Gonzales will receive the Public Humanities Award. Gonzales, of Anadarko, is a Kiowa-Apache author and educator who has worked to spread the Kiowa language.

Organization awardees include the ONEOK Foundation, which will receive the Community Support Award for efforts to improve the quality of life in communities across Oklahoma. The Outstanding OHC Project award will recognize Oklahoma Chautauqua, a program presented by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. Oklahoma Chautauqua travels around the state every summer to portray living history through scholars' re-enactment of historical characters.

The awards dinner begins 5:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, 2401 N. Laird. Tickets are $100. For more information, call 235-0280. "Caitlin Harrison

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