PASSING OF TRIBAL ELDER (Senate - March 19, 1996)
Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. President, the Northern Cheyenne and native Americans across the country are mourning the loss of an elder, statesman, and ambassador for our people, and I would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to this extraordinary man whose death is a great loss not only for all Indian nations but for the entire country.
William `Bill' Tallbull's life exemplifies service and dedication to one's country and people. A World War II veteran, Bill spent much of his life on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation serving his tribe, including a position as a councilman for the Northern Cheyenne. He retired in 1972, and while most people dream of retirement, Bill was not the type of man to be idle. He came out of retirement a few short years later, and went on to serve his tribe and his country for another two decades.
Bill's list of accomplishments is a long and impressive list. He has done more in his lifetime than most people ever dream of doing. He became an assistant history professor at Dull Knife Memorial College, located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, teaching oral traditions and ethno-botany classes. From 1983 through 1995, he served as chairman of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Cultural Resource Program, and in 1990, he received the Montana State Historic Preservation Award becoming the first native American so honored by the State of Montana.
Bill was also instrumental in the formation of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act, having worked with former Senator Melcher of Montana on the initial draft of that legislation. He was later appointed by former Secretary of the Interior Manual Lujan, Jr., to sit on the committee which wrote the regulations for this act. Bill was the only native American to serve on that committee.
In his ongoing efforts to safeguard the native American culture and heritage, Bill was a founder of the Medicine Wheel Alliance, an organization committed to preserving the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark in the Bighorn Mountains. This commitment to landmark preservation led President Clinton, in 1994, to appoint Bill to become the first native American ever to serve on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a national panel committed to protecting historical landmarks across the country.
A professor, author, historian, and ethno-botanist, Bill was also a devoted husband, father, and tribal elder. He was admired and respected by all who knew him, and his commitment to the promotion of cultural awareness and to the protection of the native American heritage benefited all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity.
I was honored to have known this distinguished tribal leader, and his death is a great loss for all of us. However, I'm certain Bill would not have wanted his death to create a void where his work is concerned. We can all learn from this great man and continue his work for cultural awareness and spiritual integrity of the land. There could be no better tribute to such a man as Bill Tallbull.