Darrell “Curley” Youpee, Sung’ Gleska Tatanka Nunpa: Spotted Horse Two Buffalo from Poplar Creek, fifth-generation activist for Indigenous rights and environmental protection and artist, started his journey to the spirit world on Saturday May 22nd due to complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). He just turned 70.
Curley grew up on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeast Montana. His ancestors came to Montana as a result of the Dakota uprising in Minnesota and also the unfulfilled treaty obligations, which brought on starvation of the people on the reservations of Cheyenne River and Standing Rock.
Curley’s approach to reducing racial hatred and social injustice against his people has earned him a seat in human rights circles, and won him national recognition among US government organization such as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Bureau of Land Management, and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. “It’s a matter of finding peace. Learning synergy through non-adversarial, action orient strategies,” declared Mr. Youpee.
As Cultural Resources Department Director of the Fort Peck Tribes, he coordinated cross-cultural training and presented historical and cultural backgrounds of the Assiniboine and Sioux people. Concerned with the loss of tribal culture, he started collecting oral history in 1982 to assemble the Tribes’ principal audio/visual collection. He lectured across the country using the history, traditional beliefs and storytelling of the Assiniboine and Sioux people. He shared legend and creation stories of his people. “Creation comes from the universe and brought down in sacred deities.” He credited his elders as mentors for bringing him this far.
Curley is a great-great-great grandson of Lone Horn; Mniconwoju of the Cheyenne River Reservation, and Owl Bull and Na ki hi hi la of the Standing Rock Reservation. His great-great uncles who died at the first Wounded Knee; Black Coyote, Dog Skin Necklace and Looking Thunder.
Curley Youpee Rights Activity Timeframe:
|1970-National Indian Youth Council||1972-Denver American Indian Movement|
|1973-Wounded Knee Occupation participant||1974-Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee|
|1974-National AIM Security||1975-President of Fort Peck AIM|
|1977-Organizer for NASA at Los Angeles City College||1982-Chairman of the Northern Plains; Tribal Employment Rights Offices|
|1983-National Chairman for the Council for Tribal Employment Rights||1988-Chairman of Labor and Training Committee; National Congress of American Indians|
|1991-Founding Member of the Keepers of the Treasures; InterTribal Cultural Advisory Board||1994-First American Indian NGO to be appointed by the US Department of Labor|
|1995-Member of the Medicine Wheel Coalition||1995-Appointed Director for the Cultural Resources Department, Fort Peck Tribes|
|1997-Montana Governor’s appointee to the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission||1997-InterTribal Bison Cooperative|
|1998-Facilitator and trainer for Smithsonian’s Tribal Museum Training Program||1999-Co-founder of Friends of Echinacea|
|2004-Won lawsuit against Bureau of Land Management for not consulting with tribes on cultural impacts of pipeline project||2006-State Cultural Sensitivity Trainer for MT State Employees|
|2008-Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee||2011-Arrested in Washington DC for Keystone XL protest|
In 1973, at the 71 day standoff at the Wounded Knee protest, Curley was part of the night team that slipped 39 people with fully loaded packsacks into Wounded Knee bypassed US Marshall barricades.
Curley was a talented artist who brought together carved symbolic horses and dramatic imagery in a traditional abstract manner, achieving an illusory, mysterious effect that connects the viewer’s imagination. In addition to being collected by museums, his horse carvings are displayed throughout the northern plains’ region at popular galleries and gift shops.
Curley enjoyed traveling, reading, writing, socializing, lecturing, arts and crafts, and most of all, passing on the tribe’s history, culture, traditions, and language. He always had time to visit with friends or anyone who wanted to talk. His spirit will live on throughout his family.
Curley is preceded in death by his grandparents Joe and Helen Brushhorn, Frank Youpee, James and Melda McLean Tattoo; parents, Louis Youpee Sr. and Bernice Tattoo Youpee; Sister, Cathy Youpee Hurd; Brothers, Louis Youpee Jr. and Charles “Red” Youpee; uncles and aunts, Elizabeth and Ted Manning, William Sr. and Isabel Weinberger Youpee, Leroy and Josephine Youpee, Lester Sr. “Jimmy” and Jeanette Cloud Youpee, Helen and Douglas RedBird, Edith and Andrew Sigana, Morris Sr. and Dolly Bearcub Tattoo, Theresa and Tyrus Cadotte, Terrence Claymore and Lillie May Smith, Bernard Tattoo, Pearl Tattoo; nieces and nephews, Lori Russette, Robin Russette, Robin Iceman, Francine Iceman, Bernard Youpee, Charles Youpee, Merrin Youpee; granddaughter Winona Youpee.
Curley is survived by his sisters; Jewel Hanna, Frances Nation; Brothers; Eugene “Bubby” Youpee; Uncle Lloyd Youpee; Children, Willard (Tzi Ling) White of WA, Michael and Bernice Youpee Jordan of NC, Waylon (Connie) Youpee, Chris Warclub of MT, Jackson Chaser of CO, Brian (Trudy) Eder, Malachi Stops, Dylan (Misty) Youpee, and Dyan Youpee, all of Poplar MT.
Grandchildren, Waylon (Hanna) Youpee Jr., Alyssa, Andrew, Tyler, Connor, Caz, Jasmine, Brian Jr., Hally, Aiyanna, Quinton, Brylee, Madeline, Joan; Great grandchild; Waylon Youpee III, Saic’iye Akipa; Adopted son: Fernando Truillo.
Numerous special friends, extended cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.