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Native Sun News: Charlie Colombe, Rosebud Sioux, passes





The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.


Charlie Colombe

Accident claims Charlie Colombe
Indian Country loses one of its greats
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

ROSEBUD — Indian Country lost one if it’s most innovative and progressive thinkers this past weekend. Charles Colombe, former president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was killed in an ATV accident while chasing livestock near Rosebud.

Colombe was a rancher, retired bronc rider, businessman, and politician who never shied away from tough decisions or an opportunity to stand up for what he believed in. Lionel Bordeaux, President or Sinte Gleska University at Rosebud praised Colombe for his out of the ordinary ability to think through tough issues.

“Indian country lost its greatest mind. Charlie always made sense and whenever we had a real hard problem to solve we could always call on him. I guess we can call on him spiritually from now on,” said Bordeaux.

Lynn Rapp, Oglala Lakota, Investment Manager for Eagle Opportunity said of her friend, “It makes me very sad; always loved that man. What a character... There never was a deal he didn't like! He was my friend and my neighbor.”

Charlie grew up on his family’s ranch located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. In his early years he participated in the professional rodeo circuit as a bronc rider. He attended Todd County School, St. Francis Mission, and Sinte Gleska University. From 2004-2006 Charlie served as the Treasurer of the National Indian Gaming Association and President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe from 2003-2005.

In addition to being a civil servant Colombe was one of the more successful businessmen in all of Indian country. In 1999 he and his son Wesley Colombe developed AllStop Inc. one of the largest employers on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. He was President and CEO of B.B.C. Entertainment INC that specialized in casino management.

“Charlie Colombe was very astute and adept in different arenas – rodeo, education, agriculture, economic development, tribal government, and business,” said Phil Baird, former Sinte Gleska University vice president who worked on the Colombe Ranch as a teenager. “But he was always about helping people, Tribal and non-Tribal, and especially youth and those folks down on their luck. In so many ways, Indian Country lost a great leader,” Baird said. “Some will only remember him as a politician or as a cowboy-businessman. I’ll remember Charlie as a great teacher, by sharing knowledge and by example. He more than once reminded us kids ‘school is always in session.”

Tim Giago, retired newspaper publisher, upon hearing how Charlie climbed off of the ground, stood the ATV on its wheels, and then climbed back on again before passing out said, “That was Charlie. He was one tough cowboy and I’m sure his reflexes led him to climbing back on that ATV just like he always climbed back on a bronc when he was thrown.”

Giago recalled, “One time Charlie and I had dinner at the old Alex Johnson in Rapid City on a Friday night and the next day, Saturday, we attended a meeting at Crazy Horse Memorial and Charlie introduced me. He said, ‘I had dinner with Tim last night and since it was Friday, and I’m an old St. Francis boy and Tim’s an old Holy Rosary boy, we both ordered the fish.’”

“That was Charlie, a great guy, a solid businessman and a great friend and he will really be missed,” said Giago.

Wake services will be held on Wednesday evening on June 12, at the Sinte Gleska Multi-purpose building in Mission/Antelope and Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Sinte Gleska Multi-purpose building at Mission/Antelope on Thursday, June 13. Burial will follow at the Charles Colombe Ranch east of Mission. Funeral arrangements are provided by the Rooks Funeral Chapel in Mission. You may call 605-856-2702 for more information.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

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