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

Lee Cook or Waase Waagos was 'larger than life'


October 27, 2021

Leon "Lee" Cook, a lifelong advocate for the betterment of Native people, champion for Indian education and former National Congress of American Indians president, died Oct. 13. He was 82.

Cook, a citizen of the Red Lake Nation in northern Minnesota, was a larger-than-life figure, a groundbreaker who impacted many people in and beyond Indian Country.

Cook's career had an unusual path. He was just in his 20s when he was considered as a potential Democratic vice presidential nominee. Then he went to work for Richard Nixon at the Bureau of Indian Affairs during a time of reform. Then he resigned to run for, and win, president of the National Congress of American Indians. He was just 31 at the time.


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