Former Crow Creek Sioux chairman Vernon Ashley passes on

Vernon Ashley, 1916-2015. Still image from Wo Lakota / YouTube

Vernon Ashley, a former chairman of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, died on Tuesday. He was 99.

Ashley was born on the banks of the Missouri River on January 15, 1916. He served as chairman when the tribe adopted its first constitution and also was in office when the tribe was forced to give up most of its best lands along the river for the Pick-Sloan Project in the 1940s and 1950s.

"Vernie Ashley was an important figure during that time. People were very, very opposed to the flooding of all that land,” author Elizabeth Cook-Lynn told The Pierre Capital Journal.

Ashley later went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. After 10 years there, he became the first coordinator of Indian affairs for the state of South Dakota and served under three different governors.

In July, the tribe honored Ashley as a chief. He was a fluent speaker of the Dakota language. His Dakota name was Sinkpe, which means muskrat.

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A leader of the people (The Pierre Capital Journal 11/12)

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