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Herbert Whitish, Shoalwater Bay chair, dies at 50

Herbert "Ike" Whitish, the former chairman of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe of Washington, died on August 1 from complications associated with cancer. He was 50.

Whitish led the tribe though one of its most crucial times. During the 1990s, an overwhelming majority of pregnancies on the reservation resulted in miscarriages.

Whitish demanded answers. When he couldn't get any from the Indian Health Service, he turned to the media to make his case. "If our people cannot keep their babies, our way of life here will die," he said in a March 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer story.

The attention led to investigations by the IHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agencies weren't able to find out the cause of the miscarriages but Whitish's determination led to federal funding for a clinic and a program for pregnant women on the reservation.

Get the Story:
Herbert "Ike" Whitish, 1955-2005: Native leader led Shoalwater Bay Tribe through crisis (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/9)

Related Stories:
Shoalwater tribe sounds alarm over fetal deaths (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer February 22, 1999)
Mysterious Force Attacks Small Western Tribe's Young in the Womb (The New York Times March 26, 2000)
Miscarriages within tribe spur search for answers (The Oregonian March 4, 2001)