SIOUX FALLS, S.D. _ A longtime representative of South Dakota’s Lakota people, Chief David Beautiful Bald Eagle Jr., has died on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. He was 97.
Bald Eagle died at home Friday and a traditional four-day wake began in his home Monday.
Bald Eagle was born in a tepee in 1919 and for decades he was the face of the Lakota people in state tourism promotions.
Charlie Rooks with Rooks Funeral Home in Eagle Butte said Bald Eagle’s funeral is scheduled for Friday at Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis.
He served in the Army during World War II and was wounded after parachuting into Normandy during D-Day, the Rapid City Journal reported. He later became a champion Lakota dancer, rodeo cowboy and chief of the Minicoujou band. He also appeared in movies, including the Oscar-winning “Dances with Wolves.”
Bald Eagle’s grandfather was Chief White Bull, a relative of Sitting Bull, who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Bald Eagle had been asked to address indigenous people worldwide, and tribal leaders from South Dakota reservations sought counsel from him, the newspaper reported.
“I was born in a tepee at Cherry Creek, the first Indian village there ever was,” Bald Eagle told the Journal in 2013. “I know we can’t go back there, back to where we were. But we can tell the young ones how it was and they can remember, and they can bring it back. They can return.”