Timothy Wapato, tribal advocate, dies at 73
S. Timothy Wapato, a nationally-respected tribal advocate, died on Sunday. He was 73.

Wapato was a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington. He served as the executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association as tribal casinos began to flourish and he was a strong force for sovereignty in the nation's capitol.

“Tim was a spiritual master sent to us from the creator," said Rick Hill, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin who worked with Wapato as chair of NIGA. "He was a brilliant teacher, philosopher, visionary and he used humor to tell the truth. Tim led the way to protect our inherent sovereign right as indigenous people.”

Wapato worked on tribal fishing rights following the historic 1974 Boldt decision and was the first executive director of the Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission. He served on the commission that negotiated the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada.

“Tim Wapato was a man of vision, a true warrior for Indian nations," said current NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr., Oneida. "As a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, love for Indian peoples and respect for our sovereignty was deeply ingrained in his heart. And, he was a man of action, who put himself on the frontline and made his vision a reality. He was a champion for us all and will always be remembered for his leadership.”

Wapato died at his home in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was married to Gay Kingman-Wapato, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

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Tribal advocate Wapato, 73, dies (The Spokesman-Review 4/20)