Naia Lois Rudd (Lombard) Stevens was born on February 7, 1930, in Los Angeles, CA. She went home to be with the Lord on April 14, 2018, in Vancouver, WA. She was the daughter of James Christopher Rudd and Lois Lombard Rudd. Naia had five brothers: Kenneth Clark, Quentin Clark, James Rudd, Jr., Chris Rudd and William Pater. She also had one sister, Myra Rudd.
Naia married Robert Curtis Stevens, also a native of Los Angeles, on December 10, 1949. In the early fifties, Naia and Bob welcomed three children: Robert Henry “Hank,” John Clinton, and Shari LoAnne. Bob and Naia relocated and raised their family in California’s South Coast, in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
Naia was conscientious about her citizenship and its rights and responsibilities. Besides being a U.S. citizen with Norwegian, Native American and Scottish roots, she was a registered member of the sovereign Osage and Cherokee nations. She identified her place in the family history descended from Osage Peace Chief Claremore. Circa 1786 French/Cajun voyageur Joseph Lambert took Chief Claremore’s daughter, Me-Sar-Nee, as his wife. To contextualize this historically, this segment of the family story took place in the same generation as M. Lewis, W. Clark, Sacagawea, & D. Boone. Joseph’s journeys took him from New Orleans to Eastern Oklahoma, and there, along with his family, established and continued within the Osage and Cherokee Peoples. He next ventured far into the Pacific Northwest’s Central Oregon region before returning to the Osage to perpetuate his family among the Osages of Oklahoma. Along the way the family name evolved and became “Lombard.”
Naia drew great inspiration from Joseph’s son, Robert’s, Cherokee wife. Robert married Agnes Nelms “Akir” Gore around 1843. In 2011 Naia penned a historical narrative she titled “Where the Water Talks, The Story of Akir, A Cherokee Woman of Love and Courage.” These characteristics of love and courage were also woven into the fabric of Naia’s life story.
Amongst Walter and Lucy’s immediate fore-bearers were souls who had survived the forced migration of the tragic Cherokee ‘The Trail of Tears.” Naia taught her family to cherish these memories with the deepest feeling. This was a guiding force in her desire to tell Akir’s story that took place during this time period.
Naia’s mother and “Granddad” were fluent Osage language speakers and writers. In her personal experiences and conversations, Naia was always affectionate in giving honor to her maternal grandparents, Walter Lombard and Lucy Kennedy Lombard of Pawhuska and Tulsa. Walter served in the Osage Nation as Tribal Sheriff and U.S. Marshall in Oklahoma Indian Territory. Walt was renowned among Osages, Cherokees, and other Tribes as a trustworthy and honorable man. He held himself accountable to the Beloved Old Men and the councils of Tribal government and was profound in his faith practice in the fellowship of church and prayer meetings.
Naia’s mother, Lois, was a founding member of the United Osages of Southern California, and an Osage War Mother (Naia’s three older brothers are honored Osage Veterans). Naia’s close Osage relatives of her generation are John Pete, Tammy and Tisa Essley. The families of Tammy and Tisa, along with Dad Pete, have faithfully kept on in the stewardship of the Lombard family land at EZ Ranch. The family home is one of Oklahoma’s early historic ranch architecture homes. Popular Western Swing musicians Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys used to stay for extended periods of time at the Lombard Ranch. It became their haven and get away from Tulsa following long tours on the road.
Osages of the Red Eagle, Cass, Daniels, Burns, Clavier, Standing Bear, Red Corn, Cunningham, Waller, and Gray families (among many others) were particularly and frequently attentive to Naia. She genuinely honored the four generations of families who met together as United Osages of Southern California. These families had been watchful and hopeful for Naia’s family for years.
A high point in Naia and her family’s life was the Lombard Family Reunion and Osage Naming conducted by Eddy Red Eagle in 2005. Grandson Jake Heflin and son Hank Stevens coordinated the event with the family’s team prevailing in the handgame at the Cultural Center. It was at this time she was acknowledged as an Osage Storyteller. Of course, her family had known that about her for many years. She revered the Osage Drum and Singers of In-lon-ska Ways and was pleased when she could participate in the fellowships at the In-lon-ska dances.
Naia was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother. That devotion was experienced from generation to generation. Passing on life lessons and traditions to her family was in her genes. She self -published two autobiographical works in addition to her “Where the Water Talks” in an effort to ensure her family would know their legacy and history. However, the legacy of her “Faith Journey” she would consider her most important. This faith continued to be transformative in her, her children’s, and her friends’ lives. She felt her greatest education was sustained through her life (and her family’s lives) in Bible reading and study, and an earnest ongoing practice of prayer and fellowship.
Naia is survived by her husband Bob; her sons Hank (Fawn) and John (Diane); her daughter, Shari (David); eleven grandchildren; twenty-six great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Her parents and five siblings preceded her in death.
The kindness, insight, wisdom, and love by which she lived will endure. Naia’s biblical faith, guidance, and motivation will continue in the lives of her loved ones. Her life modeled a good and trustworthy way of living and dying in the grace, glory, and presence of our almighty and loving God through our Lord Jesus Christ.