Barbara Murphy, 1939-2018.

National | Federal Recognition

Redding Rancheria pays tribute to late former chairwoman Barbara Murphy



Barbara Murphy, a former chairwoman and respected elder of the Redding Rancheria, passed away on May 8. She was 79.

The tribe hosted a celebration of life in Murphy's honor on Thursday evening. About 200 people attended the ceremony, which was held at the Win River Resort and Casino Event Center in Redding, California, Action News Now reported.

“Barbara was a woman who wasn't afraid of her status as a woman,” Current Chair Jack Potter said, the station reported. “She sat at the table with many male leaders throughout Indian Country, and she wasn't afraid to speak her mind.”

Murphy served as chairwoman for several years and as chief executive officer of the tribe for 16 years, according to a tribal press release. She felt a calling to serve her people.

“Suddenly it was like something touched my head and went right through my body and I started to cry,” Murphy once said. “The thought that went through my head was ‘You have to be at the Rancheria. It was (the spirits’) way of telling me what I had to do. I had no choice.”


Murphy also was a reminder of a darker era in federal policy. As the last living survivor of the termination era, she was one of the 17 original distributees who helped keep the community together after the United States ended its government-to-government relationship with the tribe.

The tribe regained federal recognition in 1983. Murphy helped write a new constitution in 1986 and soon joined the tribal council.

“Everything you see around here is because of her leadership and how she was able to get people to create the constitution, to get approval for the compacts, to get all the things that were necessary to have this casino and then all the economic development we've done since then,” her son, Joseph Murphy, said on Thursday, Action News Now reported.

Funeral services took place earlier on Thursday.

Read More on the Story:
Former Redding Rancheria Chair Laid to Rest (Action News Now May 17, 2018)
Redding Rancheria Mourns Loss of Tribal Elder (Action News Now May 11, 2018)
Ex-Redding Rancheria chairwoman Murphy dies (The Redding Record-Searchlight May 10, 2018)