John Trudell Portrait
Noted activist, poet and Native thinker John Trudell walked on December 8 at the age of 69. This image was used on the cover of "Lines from a Mined Mind" published in 2008.

Year in Review: Remembering Those Who Walked On in 2015


As 2015 comes to a close, we remember those who walked on during the past year and pay tribute to their service and their lives. Whether prominent on the international stage or the home front, these enlightened spirits touched us all. Here is a sampling of the people who passed through Indian country for all too brief a time:

Marie Smallface Marule (70), education and rights leader of the Blood Tribe, walked on December 31, 2014.

Mario Cuomo (82), steadfast ally of the Oneida Indian Nation, walked on January 1, 2015.

Geronima Cruz Montoya (99), renowned Oh’Kay O’wingeh artist, educator and cultural leader, walked on January 2.

Lloyd House (83), Navajo and Oneida teacher, veteran, Marine, Air Force reservist, and the first Native American Senator in Arizona, walked on January 2

William Buffalo Tiger (94), first tribal chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, walked on January 6.

Gordon Crowchild (85), a well-known leader, family man, respected rodeo pro and former chief of the Tsuu T’ina Nation, walked on January 12.

Wilmer Mesteth (57), Oglala Lakota spiritual leader, walked on January 16.

Reies Lopes Tijerina (88), founder of the Alianza Movement, walked on January 19.

Gary M. Mitchell (63), a Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation tribal leader, walked on January 23.

Ray Gardner (59), Chinook Tribe chairman, walked on February 3.

Mushkooub Aubid (65), drumkeeper and brother of an elected official of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, walked on February 7.

Michele Sereda (49), co-founder and artistic director of experimental theater company Curtain Razors; dancer and powwow instructor Lacy Morin-Desjarlais (29), Saulteaux and Métis; Michael Green (58), a co-founder of the theater company One Yellow Rabbit, and Blackfoot elder Narcisse Blood (60), Kainai First Nation, all walked on February 10 as a result of a car crash.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner (67), citizen of the Onondaga Nation and monumental figure in indigenous rights, walked on February 14.

George Attla Jr. (81), Athabascan mushing legend and mentor, walked on February 15.

Jeri Ah-be-hill (80), the Kiowa-Comanche fashion icon, walked on March 11.

Margarete Bagshaw (50), a third generation female painter of Santa Clara Pueblo descent, walked on March 19.

Michael Jandreau (71), a former Lower Brule Sioux Tribal chairman, walked on April 3.

Charles Chevalier (84), who fought for treaty fishing rights and was a member of the Mitchell Bay Band, walked on April 7.

Charles “Etok” Edwardsen (71), controversial Iñupiat activist, walked on May 8.

Bahe Kethcum (96), Navajo code talker, walked on June 9.

Michael “Huzo” Paddlety (55), artist and member of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Tribes, walked on June 16.

Sharon Bryant (54), first female Monacan tribal chief, walked on June 23.

Peter Mead (54), longtime support of Indian gaming and founder of Casino Enterprise Management magazine, walked on June 24.

Bonnie Red Elk (63), award-winning journalist and member of the Fort Peck Tribes, walked on June 29.

Frankie Rivera (38), Diné, a prominent, outspoken urban Native activist, walked on August 29.

Overton James (90), who served as governor of the Chickasaw Nation from 1963 to 1987, walked on September 16.

To Kola Ota (Darrell Standing Elk) (81), respected leader of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, walked on September 20.

Jess Sixkiller (78), Cherokee elder and activist, walked on September 25.

Wayne Chico (64), Tohono O’odham, former chairman of the Board of AMERIND Risk Management Corporation, walked on October 7.

Kenneth S. Clark Sr. (84), former Nanticoke Indian Tribe of Delaware chief, walked on October 9.

Rina Naranjo Swentzell (76), Santa Clara Pueblo artist, author and scholar, walked on October 30.

George Billie (88), a Seminole elder, tribal historian and interpretive guide at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum, walked on November 9.

Vernon Lewis Ashley (99), a U.S. Army veteran and former Crow Creek Sioux tribal chairman, walked on November 10.

Robin Poor Bear (38), Oglala Sioux subject of a PBS documentary about abuse, sobriety and justice, walked on November 20.

Antoine Delormier (67), Akwesasne man who claimed to have been roughed up by Canadian border guards, walked on November 24.

Greg Fisk (70), who was the newly elected Juneau, Alaska mayor, walked on December 1.

John Trudell (69), American Indian poet, actor, spoken word artist and political activist, walked on December 8.

Hans C. Walker Jr. (88), Mandan, was one of the first Native American lawyers to lead the push to enforce tribal treaty rights, walked on December 20.

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