Greeley receives Treasure Award Mabel Greeley of Wagner received the ninth annual South Dakota Living Indian Treasure Award Saturday, Sept. 26 as part of the Northern Plains Tribal Arts Market in Sioux Falls. The award was presented at the powwow and awards ceremony.
Presented annually to an American Indian elder in recognition of contributions to American Indian art forms, the award is co-sponsored by the South Dakotans for the Arts and Northern Plains Tribal Arts. Past recipients include Emma Amiotte, Alice New Holy Blue Legs, Steve Charging Eagle, Matt and Nellie Two Bulls, Clarence Rockboy, Nellie Star Boy Menard, Anna Firethunder, and the 1997 recipient, Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve.
Greeley, 99, has devoted much of her life to art, particularly in beadwork and quilting. She learned to quilt as a young girl, and it is her quilts which have earned her the highest recognition and awards from many major art shows across the country.
For several years, Greeley has taken highest honors at the Northern Plains Tribal Arts Exhibit and Market held annually in Sioux Falls, including first prizes and the Governor's Award.
Greeley is the oldest Ihanktonwan on the Yankton Sioux Reservation, where she has lived most of her life and is respected and honored as an elder in the community. In 1993, the Yankton Sioux Tribe proclaimed May 9 as Mabel Greeley Day and acknowledged her as a positive role model with a "young-at-heart attitude," lifelong contributions and devotion to her people.
The State of South Dakota joined in the proclamation signed by then-Governor Walter D. Miller who honored her for dedicating "her life to the betterment of her community, the caring and sharing with family and friends and the day-to-day giving and loving" she extends to all.
Born on Christmas Eve nearly a century ago, Greeley grew up on a farm in Ravinia with five brothers. At age 34 she met Hilbert Greeley from Sisseton and they were married shortly thereafter.
During their 54 years together, they had two sons, one daughter, 16 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Greeley survived the strict regimen at the Flandreau Indian School, the harshness of the Great Depression and the ravages of the 1972 Rapid City flood during which she and Hilbert were rescued by boat from a rooftop.
She attributes her long life and good health to a "clean, good life, and hard work."
The Yankton Sioux community is planning a party in December to celebrate her 100th birthday.