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.