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Mark Trahant: Hank Adams, Indian visionary

"My favorite stories were the ones my grandmother told me about her father and what it meant to be an American Indian leader in the early 20th century. The stories I grew up with were told in the kitchen, dished out meal by meal and consumed slowly because the narrative was meant to last my lifetime.

One of those stories started with a picture. My great-grandfather, Walter Clark, was dressed in a stylish three-piece suit and sitting in front of the U.S. Capitol. The year was 1908. He had brought this souvenir back to Montana from a lobbying trip on which he had been working on behalf of his people, the Fort Peck Assiniboine-Sioux Tribes.

That picture popped into my mind again this week in the nation's capital where Hank Adams, another grandson of Walter Clark, was being honored. The newspaper Indian Country Today picked Adams for its American Indian Visionary Award for 2006. Here is an extraordinary story, one that deserves to be told over and over in many kitchens.

"Hank Adams is the activist's activist who engaged the intellectual and practical efforts required to achieve proper recognition of Indian people. Starting in the 1960s and sustaining to the present, Hank Adams is recognized for his qualities of vision, courage, commitment, discipline -- and particularly -- the quiet modesty and natural humility of his example," Indian Country Today said.

At an awards ceremony at the National Press Club, Susan Hvalsoe Komori, an attorney who said she was trained by Adams, put it this way: "Hank's a genius. He knows things we don't know. He sees things we don't see.""

Get the Story:
Mark Trahant: Honoring an American Indian visionary (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 3/5)

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