Tribute to a Patriot

Nov 9th, 2014 | By | Category: 26-2: Workforce Development
By David M. Gipp
GERALD ONE FEATHER

In 2013, the University of Colorado, Boulder, bestowed an honorary doctorate degree on One Feather.

Gerald One Feather was among the true tribal college patriots who have gone on to the Spirit World. I first met Gerald in the late 1960s. He went on to be elected chairman of the Oglala Sioux tribe, was a key founder of what is now called Oglala Lakota College, served on his tribal council as an officer for many years, organized and chaired the Oglala Law Enforcement Commission, wrote articles, taught at Black Hills State University, and was a wonderful husband and father and grandfather and friend to so many. He collaborated with the late Vine Deloria Jr. and many others in his quest to create a better, fulfilled Lakota life for his people.

Gerald, of course, was a founder of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) in the early 1970s and was the organization’s first president. He had the dream that the AIHECaffiliated colleges would serve as major contributors to the rebuilding and renaissance of tribal values, heritage, language, and spiritual practices throughout tribal America. While there are still many steps to be taken, great progress has been made by the tribal colleges and universities, as well as other tribal schools and language institutes everywhere. One only needs to look at the many examples growing across the land.

Gerald’s advice and insights were often given quietly, but with great depth and meaning. He was one of Indian Country’s true academic and traditional leaders. As much as his passing is a loss to his family, friends, and the Oglala Lakotas, it is a national loss for many of us throughout the nation. Remember his contributions.

Recently, Gerald had contacted me and was making plans to bring his grandson to United Tribes Technical College. We had looked forward to this and his company and insight to guide us further.

Most of all, we wish the family and all concerned the very best in his departure and in their well-being. A prayer is given each day for Gerald. We shall especially miss knowing he is there in the daily being for advice and his great wisdom. He was a mentor and patriot to me and many others. Yes, we miss him, but we have the gift of his words and practices in the Lakota way of life.

David M. Gipp (Hunkpapa Lakota) is chancellor of United Tribes Technical College.

 

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