Susan J. Ferrell Biography

Susan Jane Ferrell was born August 5, 1957. Susan was the daughter of Donald and Sally Ferrell, who were both natives of Oklahoma City. She was also the only sister to Cindy Ashwood, who is a lawyer with two children. She obtained her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Tulsa. In the fall of 1979, Susan enrolled in the College of Law at Tulsa University. After completing her studies, Susan was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1982. Passionately dedicated to her work, Susan served as an attorney for Indian Housing with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency. Susan worked in the Oklahoma City Office for almost 10 years.

At the age of 37, Susan Jane Ferrell died April 19, 1995 in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building. Susan had a generous heart that went out to every person and living being in need. Not only was she dedicated to her work, she was also devoted to human rights, peace, and justice globally. Her particular attention was focused on the art, culture, and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Together with Kiowa Indian leader and scholar Kirke Kickingbird, Susan was the inspiration for the tradition of Tribal Sovereignty Symposia, started by Professor Siegfried Wiessner at St. Thomas University School of Law. She helped organize the first such conference, entitled “Tribal Sovereignty: Back to the Future?” in December, 1994. Her path-breaking presentation on “Indian Housing, the Fourth Decade” was published posthumously in the St. Thomas Law Review.

In March 1997, the first annual Susan J. Ferrell Keynote Address was given by Cheyenne Peace Chief Lawrence Hart at the Tribal Sovereignty Symposium. Many people have since paid tribute to Susan J. Ferrell’s selfless work and dedication to the most vulnerable. This competition is dedicated to her.