Payson Pair Named 'Culturekeepers'

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Marguerite Noble and Vivian Burdette have been selected as two of the state's first 10 Culturekeepers and will be honored in a special hall in the new Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale.

The hotel, a 750-room structure on Greenway Road that just opened this month, features Arizona history throughout -- from its decor, to the naming of inside shops and restaurants. The hallway leading to the hotel's grand ballroom will be named Culturekeepers, and it will be used to permanently honor a total of 100 individuals, organizations and entities -- 10 selected each year for the next 10 years -- culminating in a grand celebration of Arizona's 100th birthday in 2012.

"This is like a billion-dollar project," said Sharesse von Strauss, director of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, of the new hotel. Von Strauss also is a member of the Arizona Historical Foundation committee that selected the first 10 Culturekeepers.

"This is the resort of resorts of resorts, and it's all devoted to Arizona history. They even have a beautiful display on General Crook," she said.

Von Strauss said the committee made its selection of the first 10 Culturekeepers Friday.

"Our purpose is to recognize those individuals and organizations that have worked diligently to realize and maintain the history and culture of Arizona," she said.

The nomination form for Culturekeepers defines them as "individuals who have made a positive impact on Arizona's history, culture, environment or economy. They are the current pioneers of the state ... typically unsung heroes ... whose passions toward Arizona are fueled from inside and whose works may never have been officially recognized."

Noble was selected for her writings, lectures and teaching. She is the author of the acclaimed historical novel, "Filaree" and several other books.

"I can contribute a lot," Noble said when informed of the honor. "I know how to make jerky gravy on a campfire and I know how to make coffee in a tin can on a campfire."

Burdette, Tonto Apache Tribal Chairperson, was recognized for her continuing efforts to keep her tribe's culture alive. Among other things, Burdette still teaches the Apache language.

"I always try to encourage the tribe to teach their children about what we went through and where we came from," Burdette said.

Others honored among the first 10 Culturekeepers were two organizations, the Arizona Archaeological Society and the Cowbelles. Individuals selected along with Noble and Burdette were state balladeer Dolan Ellis, Angel Delgadillo for restoration of Route 66, Janice Griffith for restoring the LaPosada Hotel in Winslow, Elisabeth Ruffner for restoration and preservation work in the Prescott area, Don Larry for his revitalization of 1870s-1930s music in Arizona, and a single award to Jerry and Florence Nelson of Scottsdale.

Guidelines the committee followed in making its choices were that those selected had to still be alive and they had to have "contributed deeply" to preserving the state's culture and history. Portraits and plaques describing the contributions of each of the 100 Culturekeepers will be hung in the hallway. Nominations for the remaining 90 Culturekeepers can be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to Marshall Trimble, Arizona State Historian, 9000 E. Chaparral Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85265. Trimble's fax number is (480) 423-6066 and his e-mail address is marshall.trimble@ sccmail.maricopa.edu.

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