Honoring 100 for the 100th: Richard Chuculate

Mr. Chuculate was born April 16, 1913 in Sallisaw. He attended Horn School, Dwight Mission, and the Roe Institute in Wichita, Kansas. He continued his education at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, and later acquired a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. He earned his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Oklahoma in Norman where he received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship.

His first employment in 1936 was as a caseworker on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He moved to Harlem, Montana to work at the Fort Belknap Indian Agency, and in 1943 brought his family back to Sallisaw, Oklahoma. There he became a caseworker with the Oklahoma Department of Welfare and became the District Child Welfare supervisor with offices in Sallisaw and Poteau.

In 1972, because of his interest in seeing more opportunities for Indians in the social work field, he helped the University of Oklahoma receive a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Its primary purpose was to allow Native American students to earn bachelor and master degrees in social work. During the 1970’s, Mr. Chuculate served as director of the aforementioned project and held an adjunct professorship with the School. He also supervised many students in the 1970s, several of whom did their filed work practice at the Cherokee Nation and in agencies in and around Sequoyah County.

Mr. Chuculate received many awards and recognition for his work as a social worker. This includes the Award of Distinguished Service from the Oklahoma Health and Welfare Association for the many years of exceptional community leadership and outstanding service to the Oklahoma Health and Welfare Association. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers and was an active member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and Registered Social Workers. He also was a 50-year member and Past Mast of the local Masonic Lodge. In 1961, he and Mrs. Chuculate were honored to serve together as the Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of the Eastern Star.

Mr. Chuculate is also credited for his help in the revitalization of the Cherokee Nation. For a number of years he was a member of the Cherokee Executive Committee when W.W. Keeler was the principal chief and chairman of the committee. He is remembered for being one of four deputy vice chiefs appointed by Principal Chief Keeler in his first term.

As his interest in community service was evident to all, Mr. Chuculate was hired by Chief Keeler as the first paid employee of the Cherokee Nation with the duties of helping secure basic needs for Cherokee people throughout the 14-county jurisdiction.

Mr. Chuculate spent a lifetime as an active and devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, spanning from his early years as a student at Dwight Mission to later years when he served as an elder on many committees for the First Presbyterian Church in Sallisaw.

Mr. Richard Chuculate died at age 92, in 2006 at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

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