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101-Year-Old Still Active, Spry

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MAY 1977      v07 n05 p53  
Maggie Okanee of Thunderchild reserveMaggie Okanee of Thunderchild reserve recently celebrated her 101st birthday. Old as she is, she is still active in reserve life and walks often one mile to her son's house. She attributes her health to not drinking and quitting smoking 20 years ago.

To celebrate her 101st birthday on April 15, a banquet was held in honor of Mrs. Maggie Okanee from the Thunderchild Reserve.

Still spry, Okanee is very much in control and able to do most things for herself. She is still very active and attends most activities on the reserve.

Although her eye sight is very weak and she can only see objects close to her face, she still manages to do her own sewing. Not only does she sew, but she makes rugs as well.

Okanee has a lot of 'get-up-and go' as she still walks one mile for a visit with her son and family.

In an interview, Okanee said "everything was peaceful in my time. There was no drinking."

"Everybody loved one another and helped one another but now today, nobody seems to care any more."

She said "our people today are lost because they have accepted the white man's ways and most destructive of all was accepting the white man's liquor."

She said the only thing of value we can share in this life is our Indian way and our worship. "We have only one creator, whom we should think of all the time."

Her message to the young people is "to follow the advice to the old people and at the same time, develop your own understanding and follow that." She says she always prays for her grandchildren so that they don't get into any wrongdoing.

Her late husband, James, was chief of the Thunderchild band for about 50 years having been elected after Chief Thunderchild died.

She said her husband was very knowledgeable, had the understanding of his language and knew the Indian way of life.

Her husband farmed, raising cattle and horses. Okanee used to ride horseback and helped her husband round up the cattle.

Okanee is still in good health and her secret to that, she said, is that she never took to drinking and has not smoked for the past 20 years and of course her one mile hike to her son's place.

Okanee's eldest son, Edward, is 72 years old. She has two other sons, Everett and William. She also has a total of 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

It took Maggie all of two blows to blow out all the candles on her cake. The banquet was enjoyed by all those relatives who came to help Okanee celebrate her 101st birthday.