Honoring Chief Bald Eagle
by K. L. Parry
I started my morning listening to a song. One Tin Soldier, by The Original Castle had been one of my favorite songs during the early 70’s at a time when I had just begun to come into some understanding of the world around me, and idealistically, my place in that world. The song was the anthem of a movie that, although fictional, brought light to real ongoing political issues between the U.S. government and Native American Indians. The movie was Billy Jack, and although the message was a bit confusing it did make me think on how, when I became an adult, I could make things better for the native people of this country.
Returning back to this morning, as I reminisced on a time when I was full of confidence in my ability to change the world, I came across a small post on a friend’s page. It read:
DAVID BALD EAGLE, ACTOR AND LAKOTA CHIEF, DIES.
I thought it strange that this article should pop up when it did, at a moment when my thoughts were of our American Indian brothers and sisters. I’d call it coincidence if I believed in such a thing. I don’t. What I do believe is this, that I was meant to share something about a remarkable individual, a person that has lived history, who has a place in history, and who should be remembered. That’s not to say I believe that anyone other than a few like myself will be interested in what I have to say, but I do what I can because he is deserving of our honor and respect.
This obituary I took directly from http://www.WestRiverEagle.com news
“DAVID WILLIAM BEAUTIFUL BALD EAGLE SR. “Waniyetu Opi” took his journey home on Friday 22, 2016 at approximately 6:00 p.m. at his home surrounded by family. He was born in a tipi near Cherry Creek along the banks of the Cheyenne River on April 8, 1919.”
He resided on the Cheyenne River Reservation near Takini, South Dakota. He was 97 years old.
Let me share with you some of this man’s accolades as recognized by the Eighty-Third Legislature of the State of South Dakota who honored his life, character and achievements with a legislative commemoration.
David William Beautiful Bald Eagle, was a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and served as a tribal leader, advocate for aspiring youth, and in World War II attained the rank of sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division where he was a paratrooper, code talker and served as a vital weapon against US enemies. Outside of his appearances in seventeen major movie films, he served as Chief for the World Organization of United Native Nations and founded the Drumming Society for Young People, which counters drug and alcohol abuse among young people.
I’d call that a remarkable life: from his birth, to proving himself vital to our victory in WWII, to Chief of the World Organization of United Native Nations. It is easy to see why the State of South Dakota chose to publicly honor this man, Chief David William Beautiful Bald Eagle for his outstanding dedication, achievements and inspiration. His life will continue to be an inspiration as long as his memory remains with us, and the story of his life is told.
To learn more about Chief Bald Eagle, the American Indian Movement and america’s indigenous people check out some of these sites:
On a side note. I am not a Native American. My nationality or where my ancestors came from has no bearing on those I choose to learn from, to follow or to honor. Nor should it.