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Elder Spotlight - Charlene Button

When I was a child, I remember dancing at the Quapaw Pow Wow when it was across from Spring River. Lots of good times we had – some of us are still with you. They had a Ferris wheel, and everyone had their own tables and cooks who did all the cooking. Ardina and Flossie remember those days also. That was in the late 50s – My old camp caved in last year, but the table is still there. Of course, you all know that we later moved the Pow Wow back across the river to where we are now and built new camps.

My Grandmother, Irene Elizabeth (Dardenne) Shafer, and mother always took me down to the grounds. We didn’t camp much as our old Chevy coupe barely made it the distance from our Kansas farm (about a mile across the state-line) to the grounds. Uncle Abe was also staying with us at this time, and I remember that he and I would always sit in the rumble seat in that old coupe. If the Pow Wow was on Tuesday, my uncle Ernie would take us. He always seemed to have a new Ford car.

After my mother remarried, I spent much of my time with Grandma Irene. She wanted me to keep a journal, and I made sure to do so. Grandma took great care of me, making all my dresses and tending to me whenever I was ill. I loved her deeply. I always seemed to have a great interest in whom we were related to, so it was at this time that I started my first family tree. Grandma Irene also taught me how to make shawls and my children's Regalia later on.

I attended the old Red Star Country School when I was younger and later went on to the Joplin Business College. I spent much of my career working in the medical field, primarily in patient accounts and medical records. After 25 years with St Johns (now Mercy), I retired. I also spent time as a cost accountant with Joplin Tobacco and as a proofreader for the Joplin Globe.

Charlene has enjoyed sitting on many committees over the years, including the Elders, Enrollment, and Cultural committees; she is a direct descendant of Abraham Dardenne on her mothers' side.

In 2014, Charlene was honored as an AARP Indian Elder. Charlene continues to make updates to her family tree and has traced it back to the year 1585. She was born and raised in Baxter Springs, KS, where she currently resides today.


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