2022 Award Winners
Tribal Resource Family of the Year
Renee’ Waitt became a state foster parent in 1989, and began tribal foster parenting in 1998. She has fostered for the Iowa Nation, the Cherokee Nation, and the Sac and Fox Nation, as well as many children placed through the state from the Pawnee Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the Rosebud Sioux Nation. She has fostered more than 250 children, often providing respite for other foster families.
Ms Waitt has 5 adult biological children, 8 adult adopted children and 5 adopted minor children, still at home. All adopted children are tribal except for the two oldest, who were adopted from Ukraine. She is currently fostering 1 teen, 2 siblings and the biological nephew of one of her older adopted sons. Her 22 children range in age from 2-43 years, and she has 10 grandchildren ranging in age from 1-18 years .
Ms. Waitt has worked with a wide variety of children to include working with children who are dealing with extensive trauma and special needs. She works tirelessly to ensure all needs are met for the children as well as providing the care. Ms. Waitt has worked to help teens prepare for adulthood and works to give them support, guidance and the encouragement needed to help youth. She has helped youth save money to buy vehicles, purchasing homes and other items as they become adults. She continues to provide love and support for young adults as they age out.
Ms. Waitt is a calm, patient, loving foster parent that makes time for all her children as well as shows an interest in their lives.
Philip D. Lujan is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and is also Taos Pueblo.
Judge Lujan was born in Lawton, Oklahoma. He was raised by his Kiowa maternal grandparents and grew up in the Rainy Mountain Kiowa community of Kiowa County. He attended public school in Mountain View, Oklahoma. He went to live with his parents who worked at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1961. He attended Kansas University and graduated from Washburn University in 1970. Judge Lujan graduated from the University of New Mexico, School of Law in 1974. He became a member of the New Mexico State and Federal Bar in 1974. He is a member of the Southern Plains Region Indian Bar Association. He served two years in the US Army with a tour of duty in Vietnam.
In the legal area, Judge Lujan has worked exclusively with tribal governments and courts for over thirty years. He is currently the Chief District Judge for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Federal Magistrate for Courts of Indian Offenses for the Anadarko Area, Chief District Judge for the Kickapoo Tribe, and Associate District Judge for the Seminole Nation.
Judge Lujan retired as a Professor Emeritus after twenty-five years of teaching at the University of Oklahoma. He was an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication. He was the Director of Native American Studies for twelve years and wrote the successful proposal to the Board of Regents which established a Native American Studies Major in the Arts and Sciences College.
In 2014, Judge Lujan received the Annual National American Indian Court Judges Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Judge Lujan has practiced in many other tribal court rooms and has been involved in countless activities in the field of Indian Law.
Chief District Judge Philip D. Lujan
2022 Tribal Court Judge of the Year
Richard Poweshiek Award
Angela Connor received her Bachelors Degree in Social Work from East Central University followed by her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. Angela is a member of the Choctaw Nation and is the Director of Foster Care & Adoptions. She has served on numerous community and tribal boards and currently is a member of the Child Welfare League of America Board and new Membership committee co-chair. Angela is also the current Vice-President of the National Indian Child Welfare Association and Chair of the Program Committee. Angela was also elected both Vice-President and President of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association in prior years and continues to be an active member of the association. Angela has over30 years of experience in Social Work and in advocating for the rights of native children.