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THE NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HALL OF FAME MOURNS THE PASSING OF 2021 INDUCTEE ERNIE STEVENS, SR.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- National Native American Hall of Fame mourns the passing of 2021 Inductee Ernie Stevens, Sr. (Oneida), who walked into the sunset on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Stevens had served in numerous leadership positions, including as executive director of the Los Angeles Indian Center, the Institute for Community Anti-Poverty Corporation, the Inter-Tribal Council of California, the Indian Action Project in Arizona, the American Indian Policy Review Commission and served on the LA Human Rights Commission.

He was the First Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians and the first Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He advocated for sovereignty, self-determination, self-governance, and Native rights for nearly half a century. Serving with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Stevens was integral to changing the course of Indian Policy from an era of termination to tribal self-determination.

A U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran serving during the Korean War, he earned the Korean Unit citation and the Korean Service medal with three battle stars. The Phoenix Indian Center awarded him the Leon Grant Spirit of the Community Award in 2017. He was inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame in 2021.

“Ernie Stevens, Sr., was my personal hero and inspiration. He took an interest in me and told people I had potential when I was a young twenty-year-old with no direction, and he gave me that direction and encouragement. He was that kind of person, that kind of leader. A true giant in Indian Country has walked on,” stated James Parker Shield, Founder and CEO of the National Native American Hall of Fame.

“The passing of Ernie Stevens, Sr., a proud and accomplished member of the Oneida Nation located in Wisconsin, is a great loss for Indian Country. Ernie was a modern-day warrior who made a difference for Tribal Governments in the modern era,” said Richard Trudell, Founder and director of the American Indian Resources Institute and board member of the National Native American Hall of Fame. “In the 1970s, he played a major role in changing how Indian affairs were managed within the Department of the Interior, and he played a key role in laying the groundwork for federal-Indian policy initiatives that were recommended by the American Indian Policy Review Commission, a commission established by the United States Senate. He loved Indian Country and dedicated his life to making a difference for Indian people. It was an honor and privilege to know Ernie and to be his friend.”

About the National Native American Hall of Fame:

The National Native American Hall of Fame is located on the campus of the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. Its mission is to recognize and honor the inspirational achievements of Native Americans in contemporary history. The organization also serves as a unique resource for identifying and honoring these contemporary pathmakers, new heroes, and significant contributors to American society.

The National Native American Hall of Fame seeks to help people understand how Native Americans overcame the hopelessness of early reservations, the trauma of Indian boarding schools, poverty, discrimination, racism, and the cultural divide to not only adapt but to achieve greatness in every field, profession, and industry.

In addition to honoring notable Native American achievements, the National Native American Hall of Fame has developed a biography-based curriculum for grades 8-12. The curriculum meets national content standards in literacy, social studies, health, science, and art, and the lessons are intended to introduce students to noteworthy individuals who have been inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame.

Learn more at https://nativehalloffame.org/.

 

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