Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Dan King

Red Lake Loses Inspirational Leader


Red Lake lost one of it's most inspirational leaders this week. Lucy Barrett passed away on July 23rd at age 81.

Lucy was a leader in our community. She led by example. She showed others what was possible. She showed others how to do it. She inspired hundreds of others by her actions.

Most people don't realize how impressive it was to achieve what she accomplished in her educational career. After retirement from work at age 68, when most people are thinking about relaxing and resting, she started her college education. She was a first generation college student with no higher education experience to lean on. She could not have had more obstacles going against her on this educational journey.

After a lot of hard work and dedication, and competing in classes with students young enough to be her grandchildren, Lucy graduated from Red Lake Nation College with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Education in May 2007.

With excellent grades, she graduated with honors from RLNC. Then, she went on to earn a scholarship from Bemidji State University and transferred there to pursue a four year degree. Again, Lucy served as an inspiration to the younger students who admired and respected the "Grandma Student". Lucy seemed to bring out admiration of her from other people due to her life passion and innocence of heart.

At BSU, similar to her time at Red Lake Nation College, she won the hearts of the faculty, staff and students during her two years there. Lucy graduated from BSU with academic honors with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Indian Studies in May 2009.

Also, at this time in 2009, Lucy obtained an Eminence Credential from the Red Lake Tribe to teach Indian Studies at the RLNC where she started her educational journey a few years before. Lucy had completed her educational circle at RLNC going from student to Adjunct Faculty in just four years.

Personally, I think her best life lesson she taught us all is, of taking action and making a bold attempt to try something even if the outcome is uncertain or unlikely. When we are recruiting new students, I can't tell you how many people say, "I'm too old to go to college, I'm 40 years old, it won't ever work." Then, I say, "You're not too old! Let me tell you about what Lucy Barrett did!" Then I tell her story and once people hear that, they immediately feel like it is suddenly possible to go to college at any age.

One thing I immediately noticed after I started as RLNC President in 2010 was that Lucy had a special connection with everyone she interacted with. She could relate to anyone. She had a common sense wisdom. Lucy had a way to explain things so students could understand them.

For example, I heard her tell one of her classes, "Do your homework. All of your answers are in there." To me, this was a wise way of telling her students to put the time in and study hard and you will be successful. She knew how to break down topics to simple lessons. This was one of her many special gifts.

Another one of her special gifts was her sincere, innocent heart that truly cared about people she met. She had a warmth that radiated positive energy and drew people to her. Once you met Lucy, she reminded you of your own Mother or your favorite Auntie. When you were around Lucy, you knew she would never harm you and she only had positive thoughts for you.

Lucy will be greatly missed by all Red Lakers. She will be missed since we lost one of our most inspirational heroes. However, we will keep her memory alive at the RLNC by always retelling her educational success story and sharing her positive teachings.

At the RLNC, we will be naming our Indian Studies classroom, the Lucy Barrett Room, after Lucy. This will be an ongoing tribute to keep her memory alive at the RLNC where she inspired so many of us.

Dan King


Red Lake Nation College


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