Jerry Wolfe, Veteran and Elder, Honored by Tribe and USET


During the recent United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Impact Week in Washington, D.C., Jerry Wolfe, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was honored for his service as a World War Two veteran, an award winning cultural preservationist, story teller, and Cherokee Elder.

At 18 he joined the U.S. Navy, which he served in for six years. Wolfe was part of the invasion of Omaha Beach, France, on D-Day. He also witnessed the declaration of peace signing on the USS Missouri.

“There are so many war heroes and accomplished members of our USET Tribal Nations, we need to honor them so we will learn and live by the examples they set in their lives. Jerry Wolfe is just one of many. USET is proud to honor Mr. Wolfe and his Tribe the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” USET President Brian Patterson told the Impact Week attendees, according to the organization's new quartely newsletter (related story: United Southern and Eastern Tribes Launches Quarterly Newsletter).

And on April 11, by unanimous vote, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council bestowed the title "Beloved Man" on Wolfe. According to The Sylva Herald, this is the first time since 1801 that the tribe has awarded this honor.

“Jerry embodies everything a beloved man should embody,” Council Member Bo Taylor told the paper of his decision to seek the distinction for Wolfe. “He’s a veteran, a warrior. Being a veteran carries a lot of weight in our culture. He’s a man who gets out and does – and he does for others. He’s selfless.”

Wolfe, 88, currently works at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina. Read more about Wolfe here and here.

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Vangie Stephens's picture
Vangie Stephens
Submitted by Vangie Stephens on
I only hope I can have the abilities my father, Jerry Wolfe, has when and if I make it to 88 years of age. He still drives and works. In his spare time he makes \ball sticks, goes to church and eats lunch at Tsali Manor in Cherokee.. We are trying to revive and keep our language. Dad was forced into boarding school where they were whipped, locked in dark attics or had their mouths washed out with soap if caught speaking Cherokee or carrying on Cherokee traditions. They were allowed to go home only a couple of times a year. Imagine having your little boy or girl taken from you at a young age. With the threat of jail parents complied. Many parents refused to teach our generation the language fearing for their children. I call this the second Trail of Tears. We lost a lot with the first "Trail of Tears", Maybe this is why we had no "Beloved Man" since 1801. Who knows?