This sculpture commemorates the Native warriors who died fighting in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. (Image courtesy Wikimedia)

Tribal and NCAI Leader Wayne L. Ducheneaux Walks On

December 18, 2012

Over his lifetime he led the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the National Congress of American Indians. He was a United States Marine, a rancher and a family man. Wayne Leo Ducheneaux walked on December 17 at Mobridge Regional Hospital in Mobridge, South Dakota. He was 76.

Ducheneaux’s political leadership began in 1966 when he was elected to serve on the tribal council of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. A position he held until 1974 when he was elected as tribal chairman. He served eight years as chairman.

According to a tribute from the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA), Ducheneaux will be “remembered for his quick wit and good management abilities” as well as his “strong leadership and his tough work ethic.”

“He was always the first in the office and the last to leave,” the tribute said.

“The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association expresses deepest sympathy to the family and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for the loss of the honorable Wayne Ducheneaux,” said the GPTCA tribute. “The GPTCA extends appreciation for his dedication, leadership, [and] the ongoing valor of this U.S. Marine, and for his lifelong accomplishments on behalf of his Lakota people, the Sioux tribes and all the tribes nationally.”

Ducheneaux served as president of NCAI from 1990-1991. During his tenure, Congress passed the Indian Religious Freedom Act and Indian tribes were included in the Transportation Act. A legislative fix to Duro v. Reina, the case that concluded tribes could not prosecute non-members of other tribes for crimes committed on their reservations, was also passed. In 1991, the Custer Battlefield in Crow Agency, Montana was renamed to Little Bighorn Battlefield and a memorial was built to honor Native Americans who fought and died.

NCAI, in a statement released today by Tlingit Executive Director Jacqueline Pata, said: “Wayne was not only a past president but a personal friend—as we worked together to push for change in Indian housing programs. As the president of NCAI and an active voice in Indian country, he always challenged us to do more. As a result, NCAI and Indian country are participating in defining a new era for generations to come and we will carry with us everything that Wayne taught us. We will forever remember his leadership and his place in NCAI and American history.”

Instead of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in his memory to the Lisa Farlee Memorial Scholarship Fun c/o State Bank of Eagle Butte, 124 Main St. Eagle Butte, SD 57625, or to a charity of your choice.


Submitted by Anonymous on

What a wonderful man! A brother and friend that you could look up to, and know that you would get the best advice from him whenever you asked. I first met Wayne in D.C. when his brother, Frank, married my sister, Ernie. I had brought a big, beautiful King crab down for all of us to feast on, and Wayne wouldn't touch it! It was his dislike for fish or seafood that were one of his many traits sat truly set him apart from the rest of us. He was well respected in Indian country, and people on my reservation (The Flathead Reservation) in western Montana knew and liked him well. He will be missed by all. Our prayers and condolences are with the Ducheneaux family. Jeri Roullier

Submitted by Anonymous on

I swear, this is my photo I took for Native People's magazine. This place brings tears to one's eyes, knowing the sacrifice my ancestor's gave. Have a wonderful continued journey, Wayne, and say hello to your granfathers as well. ~Adrian L. Jawort

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