Mack Vann, son of James and Susie (Ellis) Vann, was born March 6, 1931 in Bunch, Oklahoma. He departed this life, to be with his Lord and Savior, on April 22, 2019 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, at the age of 88 years, 1 month and 15 days.
He was preceded in death by: his parents; wife, Fayeola Vann; sisters, Eliza Augurhole, Lydia Vann; brothers, George, William, Jack, Allen, Dirthrower Vann; nephews, Roger Vann, Mack Buzzard; nieces, Mary DuVall and Louella Adair.
Mack was the last monolingual Cherokee speaker and was cherished by many. Mack Vann would greet people with the word “osiyo,” the Cherokee word for “hello.” He was a descendant of Andrew Ross, brother of Cherokee Chief John Ross, who led the tribe from its ancestral home in Georgia to Oklahoma during the forced relocation known as the “Trail of Tears.” He had a sense of humor that was out of this world. He was soft spoken and could make anyone roll out of their seat in laughter. Mack was a traditional bow maker and healer. He spent his spare time helping other Cherokee speakers understand the language. He helped so much that he earned the nickname, “Walking Cherokee Dictionary”. He loved visiting the Holy City of the Wichitas where he is a citizen, stopping by to see his friends and to help as much as possible at the Cherokee Master Program. He also tried to attend as many hog fry’s as he could and loved taking pictures with the buffaloes. His additional hobbies included, hunting, fishing, playing pool and of course, the casino.
Mack is survived by a very loving family that includes: daughter, Lisa Christine Vann- Christiansen; grandchildren, Ciarre and Cherise; great-grandchildren, Bobbie and Izabella; sister, Katie Adair; special friends, John Bunch, Leonard Vann, Leon and Sue Buckhorn. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, a host of other relatives and many friends.
A visitation was held Thursday, April 25, 2019, 5:00 p.m. at the New Baptist Church, Bunch, Oklahoma.
Funeral services were Friday, April 26, 2019, 1:00 p.m. at the Cedar Tree Baptist Church, Briggs, Oklahoma. Brother Charlie Shell officiated.
Interment will be in the Rocky Point Cemetery, Sequoyah County.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Parsons- Canoe-Beggs Funeral Home,
From the Cherokee Phoenix
TAHLEQUAH – Mack Vann, the last monolingual Cherokee speaker, died on April 22 in Tahlequah at age 88. Vann was born on March 6, 1931, to James and Susie (Ellis) Vann.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Fayeola Vann; sisters, Eliza Augurhole, Lydia Vann; brothers, George, William, Jack, Allen, Dirthrower Vann; nephews, Roger Vann, Mack Buzzard; and nieces, Mary DuVall and Louella Adair.
According to his obituary, he had a great sense of humor. “He was soft spoken and could make anyone roll out of their seat in laughter.” It also states he was a traditional bow maker and healer and that he spent his spare time helping other Cherokee speakers understand the language. “He helped so much that he earned the nickname, ‘Walking Cherokee Dictionary.’ He loved visiting the Holy City of the Wichitas where he is a citizen, stopping by to see his friends and to help as much as possible at the Cherokee Master Program.” According to a 2014 Associated Press story, Vann was one of an estimated 50 Cherokee monolingual speakers in eastern Oklahoma that year. It states that he was a descendant of Andrew Ross, the brother of Cherokee Chief John Ross, who led thousands of Cherokees to Indian Country during their forced removal from the southeastern United States. It also states he grew up in Greasy, a predominantly Cherokee community in eastern Oklahoma, and learned some English in school but dropped out after the fourth grade to help with the family farm and slowly lost the ability to speak it. In the 2014 story, he said he was too old to learn English and friends and family helped him translate when he needed help. Speaking through a translator for the story, the United Keetoowah Band citizen said he would like more children to learn to speak Cherokee and that he spoke with two young children on a regular basis in hopes of helping them learn the language. “Everybody is just changing their ways and not really concentrating on our culture,” he said in the story. His obituary states he attended “as many hog fries as he could and loved taking pictures with the buffaloes.” His additional hobbies include, hunting, fishing, playing pool and visiting the casino, the obituary states.
Mack is survived by his daughter, Lisa Christine Vann-Christiansen; grandchildren, Ciarre and Cherise; great-grandchildren, Bobbie and Izabella; and special friends, John Bunch, Leon and Sue Buckhorn. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, a host of other relatives and many friends.
A visitation was set for 5 p.m. on April 25 at the New Baptist Church in Greasy.
Funeral services were slated for 1 p.m. on April 26 at the Cedar Tree Baptist Church in Briggs. Interment was to follow in the Rocky Point Cemetery in Sequoyah County.
This page was updated: Sunday, 18-Aug-2019 14:08:35 CDT
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