Treasured elder and preserver of the Chickasaw language

Rose Shields-Jefferson was born in 1944 in Talihina, Oklahoma, and is the oldest of 13 children. She graduated from Haskell Institute in 1965, where she studied commercial cooking.

Having grown up speaking only the Chickasaw language, Rose is a fluent speaker and serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee, helping to set standards for components of tribal language and publications. She helps to implement new Chickasaw words and was also instrumental in the development of the Chickasaw Language Basics app.

Rose has many additional interests within the Chickasaw Nation. She serves on the Chickasaw Nation Election Commission and is an active member of the Chickasaw Historical Society, the Chickasaw Nation senior center in Ada, the National Indian Council on Aging and is the current vice president of the Ada Circle of Council.

She is also well known for her beadwork, sewing and quilting, and is an active member of the Mitchell Memorial Methodist Church and participates in the Chickasaw Elders Choir.

Rose and her late husband Gene have three daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


  • 2006 winner of the Silver Feather Award, which recognized her efforts in preserving Chickasaw traditions, culture and values
  • Named the 2013 AARP Indian Elder Honoree for the state of Oklahoma