Jeremy Wallace remembered for love of tribe, heritage
Jeremy Wallace is remembered as a skilled dancer, athlete, artist, actor and craftsman among fellow Chickasaws who knew him best.
A Chickasaw cultural instructor, Mr. Wallace, 42, lost his life in a tragic auto accident in the early- morning hours of Dec. 18
Mr. Wallace was a familiar face at the Chickasaw Cultural Center where he was a stomp dancer and provided visitors with instruction in the cultural richness of the Chickasaw Nation.
He was an award-winning artist, crafting and painting ceremonial drums, bows, arrows, Native flutes and stickball sticks along with blow dart guns and woven stickballs.
“Jeremy Wallace was a well-loved member of the Chickasaw family who had an incredible passion for preserving and revitalizing our culture and language,” Gov. Bill Anoatubby said. “Even more importantly, he was a cherished son, husband and father who had a great love for his family. As one who was fortunate enough to know Jeremy, my condolences go out to all those who have suffered such a terrible loss.”
Mr. Wallace was active in all aspects of Chickasaw culture. He showed youngsters how to fashion stickball sticks, provided instruction on how to safely play the game, served as an umpire at tournaments during Chicasha Ittafama (Chickasaw Reunion) and during Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival.
Lori Hamilton, Chickasaw Nation History & Culture executive officer, knew Mr. Wallace for more than 20 years. She’s a family friend and recognized Mr. Wallace as a leader in the Ada community.
“He was such a talented individual,” Ms. Hamilton told The Oklahoman. “He was a mentor to a lot of the youth in the Chickasaw Nation and to his co-workers at the Cultural Center. He was so in tune with Chickasaw culture and was always willing to share or teach.”
Mr. Wallace’s knowledge and passion for his tribe, she said, was what she would miss most. She also remembered his dedication to playing and helping maintain stickball teams.
“Jeremy was always encouraging the youth to get involved in stickball and share what it meant to our people,” Ms. Hamilton said. “He was very skilled at the game. He would always take his time to mentor the younger players and to keep playing a game he loved so it wouldn’t be forgotten.”
Mr. Wallace’s colleague Brad Greenwood is a fellow Chickasaw Nation cultural instructor.
“(Jeremy) was on billboards, books and his image was made into a statue,” Mr. Greenwood said. “Everyone called him ‘The Face.’”
Mr. Wallace was proud of his Chickasaw heritage and particularly proud of his kinship with Bicey Walker, a Chickasaw healer of note among Indian people.
He made frequent trips to the Chickasaw homeland and entertained as a stomp dancer and flutist in Mississippi and Alabama.
Mr. Wallace and his wife, Ashley, were married Oct. 25, 2008. Their daughter, Nannola, would often be carried around on her father or mother’s hip as they stomp danced at Kullihoma during tribal festivals and social gatherings.
Services for Mr. Wallace were Dec. 21 at the Chickasaw Community Center in Ada.
Mr. Wallace’s complete obituary appears on page 13 of this edition.