Washington Loses Respected Indian Leader DeLaCruz

“Flags on the Capitol Campus in Olympia were lowered to half-staff last Friday in memory of Joe DeLaCruz.DeLaCruz had served as an appointee to the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission, as well as president of the Quinalt Nation, president of the National Tribal Chairmans Association, and as president of the National Congress of American Indians.The death of the longtime Indian leader is a major loss to both the tribes and the non-Indian community, according to Billy Frank, Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. His untimely passing is a great shock to us all, he said. We will miss him-a lot. DeLaCruz, former president of the Quinault Indian Nation (1971-93), president of the National Congress of American Indians (1981-1985) and president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (1989-90), was one of the greatest Indian leaders who ever lived in the United States, Frank said. He served us all with his extensive experience, his wisdom and his courage, to the very end of his life, said Frank. He was my friend and my ally, my teacher and my comrade, said Frank. Joe was a true humanitarian, and would be the first to tell us to move on, and continue to make progress for the Indian people, as well as non-Indian people. His contribution to all of our lives will always help us focus on that objective. It is a task to which he dedicated his life, and people of all races and creeds should help celebrate his life by embracing it,’ Frank said. Joe was one who understood that the greatness of both the United States and the Indian nations is gauged on the success we achieve, and will achieve, together. He was one who truly understood that these successes must be based on understanding between people, and respect for the treaties that defined our ongoing relationship. DeLaCruz, 62, suffered a heart attack and died Sunday morning at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport while preparing to travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a national tribal conference.Services for DeLaCruz were held Saturday afternoon at the Quinalt Beach Resort in Ocean Shores.”