Joyce Lee Tate “Doc Tate” Nevaquaya

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Joyce Lee Tate Nevaquaya

Also Known As: "Doc Tate Nevaquaya", "Doc Tate"
Birthplace: Caddo County, Oklahoma, USA
Death: March 05, 1996 (63)
Oklahoma, United States
Place of Burial: Apache, Caddo County, Oklahoma, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Leon Nevaquaya and Victoria Nevaquaya
Husband of Charlotte Jereaux Nevaquaya
Father of Leon Tate “Sonny” Nevaquaya; Jereaux Lee Sanders; Private and Private
Brother of Malcolm Tate Nevaquaya, Sr. and Lindsay Bernard Tate Nevaquaya

Managed by: Erin Ishimoticha
Last Updated:

About Joyce Lee Tate “Doc Tate” Nevaquaya

Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Comanche, was a self-taught artist with an interest in preserving the traditions and history of his people. He was born born July 3, 1932 in Oklahoma and named Joyce Lee Nevaquaya after Dr. C.W. Joyce., the family physician who delivered him. Nevaquaya died March 5, 1996. It wasn't long before he was nick-named "Doc". The name "Tate" was taken from his grandfather's partner when a Christian name was required upon entering the Fort Sill Indian School. His Indian name is Nevaquaya, which in English means "well-dressed."

"He touched the world through his music, paintings, dance performances, lectures and prayers." ...Comanche Nation

During the 1950s he began to concentrate on painting. After that he became an accomplished painter, winning numerous awards for his work. Art critic Ralph Oliver said his works were "characterized by amazing technical control, exquisite color and a mastery of detail:'

It was also during the 1950s that Doc first became interested in Indian flutes. In the 1960s he began researching the Indian flute in earnest. Because none of the Indian music is written, much of it is lost. Doc researched the flute construction and playing techniques at the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution collections and had copies of recordings made in the late 1800s by elders of various tribes. He often listened to them while he painted and based his music on the recordings.

Doc Tate Nevaquaya brought national honor to the state of Oklahoma in 1986, by becoming the first Oklahoman to win the National Heritage Fellowship Award. Given by the National Endowment for the Arts, the award honored Doc as a "flutist and master of traditional arts."

The following are credits or accomplishments:

1995— Was named National Living Treasure, and received award by Gov. Keating; Honorary Cultural Director of the American Indian Cultural Society, Inc., Norman; served on the Board of Directors for the Fine Ants Department at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

1994 — Elected to the College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors, University of Oklahoma, Norman; The Doc Tate Nevaquaya Scholarship Fund in the College of Fine Arts was established by American Indian Cultural Society, Inc. through the University of Oklahoma Foundation, Inc. to be available to deserving American Indian students; selected "1994 Artist of the West" by The 18th Annual National Western Art Exhibition and Sale, San Dimas, California.

1993 — Named "The Honored One" and Parade Marshall for the Red Earth Festival, OKC.

1992 — Ambassador and Parade Marshall for 61st Annual American Indian Exposition, Anadarko; Juried, The Trail of Tears an All Indian Art Competition, Tahlequah; Juried, The Seminole Nation Art Competition, Orlando, Florida; "700 Club", spoke on behalf of American Indian people.

1991 — Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Arts Council to compose the song "Flight of the Spirit" in honor of the five Native American Ballerinas at the dedication ceremony, Historic Mural Great Rotunda, Oklahoma State Capitol, OKC; Board of Director and founding member of the American Indian Cultural Society, Inc., Norman; Performed at Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada.

1990— Doc was named "A Living Legend" along with six other Indian Artists; performed at Carnegie Hall, New York City, N.Y.

1989 — Doc opened the archery competition of the U.S. Olympic Festival in Norman, with a flute song.

1988— Performed at United Nations Mission, New York City.

1987 — Doc's art was listed as Best Investments for 1987.

1986 — The Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma proclaimed the second Friday in October as "Doe Tate Nevaquaya" Day; received the National Endowment Heritage Award for his contribution to the Native American Art forms; received special recognition from Oklahoma State Art Council; Gov. George Nigh; Senator David Boren and a letter from President Ronald Reagan; Master's Artist Award, Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma; Grand Award Winner, Trail of Tears All Indian Art Competition in Tahlequah.

1982— Performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for Night of the First Americans;, with Loretta Lynn, Wayne Newton and Sammy Davis Jr; Listed in the Renowned Artist in the U.S.; Listed in Who's Who Among American Indians.

1979— Production of an Album of Flute Music, Folklore Music Co., New York City.

1975 — Selected as a famous Oklahoman and name included in the honor list displayed in the Fidelity Bank, OKC; selected by Governor Boren as Artist of the Month, State of Oklahoma; selected by Governor Boren to direct an All Indian Art Show to celebrate Governor's inauguration; performed with Freddy Fender, Mel Tillis and Roy Clark at the Roy Clark Ranch, Tulsa; Diamond Jubilee Heritage Week Outstanding Citizen, Apache Chamber of Commerce; recipient of the key to the city of Weatherford, along with Astronaut Allen Shepard; artist of a book cover "Komantica" by Harold Keith; lectured in Indian Boarding Schools and Public Schools of Oklahoma.

1970— "On the Road with Charles Kuralt" interviewed for TV Documentary; he was included in a program on British Television and at Expo ‘70 in Japan.

1968-69-70 — Winner of the Grand Award for three consecutive years at the American Indian Exposition, Anadarko.

Nevaquaya's works are included in the personal collections of Queen Elizabeth II of England and the late actor Vincent Price.

Doc Tate Nevaquaya biography courtesy Cherokee Nation & Indian Art

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Joyce Lee Tate “Doc Tate” Nevaquaya's Timeline

July 3, 1932
Caddo County, Oklahoma, USA
May 12, 1953
Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA
June 9, 1954
Lawton, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA
March 5, 1996
Age 63
Oklahoma, United States
Cache Creek Cemetery, Apache, Caddo County, Oklahoma, United States