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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dave Yakima Chief

Dave Yakima Chief (Wakinyan), age 74, journeyed to the spirit world on Friday evening, June 10, in Medford, Oregon surrounded by family. A respected Lakota elder, warrior, spiritual advisor, and member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Dave was born on June 25, 1930 at Rapid Creek, South Dakota. He grew up at Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge Reservation. His parents were Albert Chief and Hattie Fills the Pipe Chief. Dave worked for the people and for treaty rights for decades, traveling to the United Nations, the White House, the U.S. Congress, and other continents. In 1972 Dave participated in the Trail of Broken Treaties, which culminated in the takeover of the BIA in Washington, D.C. In 1978 he was in the Longest Walk from Alcatraz Island to Washington, D.C. that brought about the Freedom of Religion Act (P.L. 95-341), allowing Native people the legal right to practice traditional spirituality. In 1984, he ran in the Jim Thorpe 54-day run from the Onondaga Nation in New York to Los Angeles, after which Jim Thorpe's nine gold Olympic medals were returned to his family.

Dave served for many years as the spiritual advisor to Leonard Peltier, political prisoner, traveling around the country in this capacity. For over twenty years, Dave worked with Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th generation keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and served as his spiritual advisor since the death of Arvol's father, Stanley Looking Horse. Dave supported Arvol in his work for world peace and protection of sacred sites. Dave said that his job was "to pray for the people." Dave stressed the importance of daily prayer, respect, service, and honoring the seventh generation.

Gratefully sharing his life were his wife Mary Jane of Ashland Oregon, sons Waverly of Rapid City, Burton of Porcupine, Martin (and Irene) Lechuga of Eagle Butte, and Wakinyan of Chico, CA., one daughter, Wase of Chico, stepchildren Sarah Cedar Face (Reuben Elias) and Jessica Cedar Face (Benjamin John) and countless grandchildren and relatives that loved him. He was proceeded in death by daughters Doris Chief and Arlene Chief and an infant son.

Wake is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, June 16 and 17, at the Red Shirt Table Gymnasium. Traditional services are planned for Saturday, June 18 with burial at St. Bernard Catholic Cemetery at Red Shirt Table.