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Edison Chiloquin given farewell
Service retells elder's life to entire Basin community
May 25, 2003
By LEE JUILLERAT, H&N Staff Writer
CHILOQUIN - A community gave its farewells Friday to Edison Chiloquin.
People from around the Klamath Basin filled the Big Gym in the town
named after Chiloquin's great-grandfather to pay tribute to a man
remembered for a variety of reasons.
Chiloquin, 79, a full-blooded Klamath Indian, died May 17 at his
During open casket ceremonies, interspersed with traditional Native
American drumming and dancing, Chiloquin was remembered for his heroics as
an Army scout during World War II, his ability to discard alcoholism, his
love for his extended family and his refusal to accept payment for
ancestral lands when the Klamath Tribe was terminated.
"He stood up for what he believed in," said tribal Chairman Allen
Foreman, Chiloquin's first cousin, during remarks that included the
presentation of a blanket to Chiloquin family members.
Chiloquin earned international attention during the 1970s when he
refused to accept a $273,000 payment and, instead, burned a sacred fire at
the site of his great-grandfather's village along the banks of the Sprague
After five years of negotiations, President Jimmy Carter signed the
Chiloquin Act in January 1980 that gave Chiloquin and his descendants
title to 580 acres of what is now known as Pla-ik-ni Village. Until his
death, there had been plans for a work party at the village this weekend
in anticipation of a celebration for Chiloquin's 80th birthday on Aug. 31.
Instead, several hundred people gathered in the Big Gym to celebrate
A framed copy of the Chiloquin Act was among items displayed, along with
a collection of photographs and sampling of his art. For several decades,
Chiloquin painted cartoons on trash cans and also sold paintings and pen
and ink drawings. Many were published in his occasional community
newspaper, "The Teetotaler."
Several people spoke about Chiloquin's stubbornness, especially during
the years he, family and friends maintained a sacred fire at the village
site. Some urged fellow Klamaths to use Chiloquin's example in the Tribes'
current efforts to obtain former tribal lands that have been part of the
Winema National Forest for nearly 50 years.
Others spoke of Chiloquin as a role model, especially for Klamaths and
other Indians afflicted by alcoholism.
Carla Cranewalker, who was married to Chiloquin during the 1980s, told
about his insistence on being mentally and physically strong.
"The message he said was be strong. Don't walk, run. Don't sit down,"
Cranewalker said. "He was a sacred man, a medicine man. I came back to pay
my respect to the man who made me the best woman I could be."
Cranewalker drew laughs when she admitted she was late in arriving at
Friday's ceremony, "but he was late for our wedding - four hours."
Punctuating the mood were the evocative sounds of the Steiger Butte Drum
and the controlled frenzy dances by Garrold and Irwin Wilson and Westlee
Chiloquin's Army service, for which he won the Silver Star, Bronze Star
and two Purple Hearts, among other medals, was honored through a series of
dances and Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard and gun salute. An
American flag, which was placed alongside Chiloquin in his casket, was
also presented to the family.
Friday afternoon the casket, which included photographs of family
members, a jar of Tabasco sauce, a blanket, a painting of a raven and his
straw cowboy hat, was buried at the nearby Friendship Cemetery.
Copyright c. 2003 Herald and News/Klamath Falls, Or.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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