CHALEPAH Sr., Richard L.

Monday, January 21, 2013


CARNEGIE Traditional Apache Indian burial services for Richard Lewis Chalepah Sr., 64, Carnegie, will start with visitation at 2 p.m. today in Alden-Chalepah Family Home place, original alltoment of Koon-Kay-Za-Chy. This is an all night vigil filled with prayer, hymns and fellowship. Sunday, a Cedar ceremony will take place at the home place prior to departing to the prayer service to be at 6 p.m. Sunday at Red Buffalo Hall, Carnegie, followed by all night vigil. Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Red Buffalo Hall, Carnegie, followed by burial at Cache Creek Cemetery, Boone, in the Chalepah Family plot. Officiating will be Duke Tsoodle, assisted by Timothy Nestell, Carlo Chalepah, Pershing Yeahquo, and June Daingkau.


Richard L. Chalepah Sr. entered into his eternal life home in heaven, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Arrangements are by Ray and Martha's Funeral Home.


Born Sept. 9, 1948, in Lawton Indian Hospital to Alfred and Leota Evelyn Apayatt-Oyebi Chalepah Sr., Richard was the sixth child of 16 children. He was a proud enrolled member of the Apache Tribe. He was Apache and Kiowa. Richard Chalepah shared his knowledge and experiences as a headsman in both the Native American Church and Chalepah (Apache) Blackfeet Society (NA-AYE-SHA-MAH-NAH-TDIT-DAY-AYE). Richard attended Alden school with his 80-year-old Grandfather Apache Ben. He later attended Carnegie and Anadarko schools, playing football, basketball and track. He made All-District, All-Conference and Captain of the Team(s). He accomplished getting his GED and graduated with his son, Kyle Chalepah. Later, he attended the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. His work experiences included: Apache Linguistic, Substance Abuse and Alcohol Prevention Counselor, Grants Writer, and USDA Inspector. As a descendent of Koon-Kay-Za-Chy (Mean Over His Camp), Apache Indian Scout, U.S. Army, known as "Apache John", and Kiowa Chief "Satanta" White Bear, he was proud of his family heritage. Sought out from collegiate programs and communities of education throughout the United States, Richard's contributions are noted documented anthropology work of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, Native American Spirituality, Apache Blackfeet Society (Manatidie) and the Chalepah family.


In 1966, The University of Oklahoma made a live recording of the Chalepah Blackfeet Ceremonial Dance, where Richard was featured with noted Apache elders. Mr. Beatty returned to him 33 years later to talk about their recording. Over the years, Richard worked with anthropologists and their understudys of Chris Linnley, University of Missouri; John J. Beatty, Julie A. Jordan, former Mike Davis, all of the University of Oklahoma, former Gary DeCramer, University of Minnesota. At the time of his death, Richard was working with Sean O'Neal, OU Grad student as a liaison advising and reviewing a grant written by another anthropology student. His Apache language and education materials were funded by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA). He kept an active interest in supporting the Apache tribal governance structure by participating in working groups within the Apache Tribe. His efforts to reform the tribal constitution affirmed his advocacy on tribal sovereignty.


In 1990, as chairman of the Concerned Carnegie Area Residents (CCAR), he led a force of peaceful resistance to address complaints from citizens against local law enforcement officials, and the allegations of verbal abuse and the unnecessary use of force and harassment. He sought out the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice in an effort to improve the relations between the local community, law enforcement and city officials. Richard enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1966. While stationed at Cherry Point, N.C., he and his crew members received the Federal Aviation Administration highest civilian award. The Distinguished Service Award was awarded for his heroic actions in rescuing the 10-man crew trapped in a crashed Universal Airlines-DC 7CF with knowledge of hazardous and highly inflammable materials in the cargo. Later he served in WestPac based in Okinawa, Japan as Aircraft Crash, Fire and Rescue during the Vietnam War. His military awards and badge include; National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal-2nd Award and Rifle Expert Badge. Growing up, Richard was raised in the home of Cleatus Pascal Poolaw Sr. and his Aunt Irene (Chalepah) Poolaw and their children along with Grandma Rose, in Anadarko.


In 1966, he married Pamela Yackeyonny, although later divorced; he kept a life-long special relationship and friendship with the entire Snake-Yackeyonny Families. From this marriage came two children: Kyle and Rhonda. He was united in marriage to Cora Aitson, June 15, 1976, in Caddo County. Richard lived among many family members and friends in Anadarko, Lawton, Louisiana, Dallas, El Paso-Texas, and Oakland, Calif. He often traveled out of state to visit other Indian Nations on invitation to participate in their cultural events.


Nearly 30 years in sobriety, he continued to solicit support in his efforts to provide chemical dependency treatment and education for Indian people in Southwest Oklahoma. He was well-cared for and loved by the staff and residents during his most recent stay in Monte Vista Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, Lawton. With declining health and loss of eyesight, Richard's spirit remained socially active by attending and supporting his families' events, cultural activities and participating in his tribal government meetings. His favorite hobbies and interests included; all things Native American whether people, places, or things. He enjoyed watching Dallas Cowboys and OU Sooner football games and playing horse shoes but most of all, he enjoyed singing at the drum and being in the tepee, praying. He was passionately proud of his Apache and Kiowa family history, his cultural heritage, and of his veteran status for military service as a U.S. Marine. He recently attended Lawton First Assembly and was a member of the Native American Church Chapter of the Apache Tribe.


Survivors include his wife of the home and their four children: three sons: Richard L. Chalepah Jr. and wife Lelah, Carlo B. Chalepah and wife Jackie, and James F. Chalepah and wife Robin; one daughter, Christiana D. Chalepah, all of Carnegie; two children from his previous marriage: one son, Kyle F. Chalepah, Houston; and one daughter, Rhonda Y. Williams and her husband Kenneth, of Lawton; one brother, Alonzo Chalepah, of Carnegie; four sisters: Ella Chalepah, of Carnegie; Rose Autaubo and her husband, Vester, Lucretia Chalepah, and Patty K. Chalepah, all of Anadarko; 15 grandchildren: Meekah, Francis, Holly, Kyla, Candace, Randall, Bergundy, Meadow, Hailey, Beautiful Day, Kayla, Julie, Ryal, Brandon, Kara; five great-grandchildren: Chelsea, Layla, Mariah, Gabriel, Dallas; special nieces, nephews and grandchildren: Bugg, Michael, Gertie, Generita, Tabbetha, Lurlene, SarCee, John, Bo, Jody Ann, Crystal, Ben and Amy; special brothers and sister and family: Robert Toehay, Keith Yackeyonny, Bill and Vicky Alexander, and Oliver and Elden Enjady. He was preceded in death by his parents; eight brothers; three sisters; paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents; one grandson and two special friends affectionately known as "brothers:" former Minnesota State Congressman Gary DeCramer, Mike Davis and Charles "Charlie" Pebeashy.