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Friends, relatives honor Carole Anne Heart
By David M. Gipp, United Tribes Technical College President
1 February 2008

RAPID CITY (UTN) – Friends and relatives gathered here at the end of January to pay their respects and say goodbye to a memorable and beloved figure in Indian Country. Carole Anne Heart, Rapid City, a compassionate advocate for Indian people, passed into the spirit world January 25 at Rapid City Regional Hospital's Hospice of the Hills following a courageous battle with cancer. She was 61.

Carole Anne Heart
Carole Anne Heart

      She was an enrolled member of the Rosebud and Yankton Sioux Tribes and lived most of her life on or near reservations of the Dakotas. Her Lakota name is Waste Wayankapi Win, meaning "When People See You, They See Something Good." At the time of her death she was the Executive Director of the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board.

      Carole Anne served Indian people in her professional career with determination and distinction. She was a former board member and past president of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). She served as chair of the Direct Service Tribes Planning Committee and she held the appointed position of Senior Advisor to the IHS Director in Maryland, which is charged with administering the health needs of all Native Americans and Tribes in the U.S.

      Services included visitation on January 29 and 30 in Rapid City, followed by a wake. A traditional Lakota farewell ceremony was conducted January 31by Egan Artichoker, Tom Bad Heart Bull, Birgil Kills Straight, and Arvol Looking Horse at the Mother Butler Center. She was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Rapid City.

Congressional Record:
In honor of Carole Anne Heart


Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) honored the late Carole Anne Heart, Indian health and education advocate, with the following statement in the Congressional Record.

Mr. President, I rise today to honor one of the most dedicated advocates for health care treaty rights for American Indian Tribes in my state and throughout the United States, Carole Anne Heart. Carole Anne was the Executive Director for the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board. The Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board operates several programs for native people in a four-state region that represents 18 tribes including the nine treaty tribes in my home state of South Dakota. During her tenure with the Chairmen's Health Board, programs such as Healthy Start, Tobacco Prevention and Asthma Prevention expanded to serve hundreds of native men, women and children. With her assistance, the Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center opened and serves the tribal nations through its many projects and partnerships with the Indian Health Service and other federal agencies.

A Sicangu Lakota and Ihanktonwan Dakota, Carole Anne grew up with the Lakota culture all around her; as a young child, she spent much time with her grandmother and great grandmother, learning the Lakota values. She went to boarding school in Marty, South Dakota, and then on to high school at Saint Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Her life's work included water rights and women's rights, and, most recently, health care advocacy. As the Executive Director to the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, she worked to incorporate traditional customs into the contemporary programming so the language and the culture would continue. She led many conferences and workshops around the United States on tribal health care issues. Carole Anne was well-known for her humor—she would light up a room with her jokes and laughter. Often times her sense of humor interjected itself as she led some of the most serious discussions on health care disparities. Her use of the phrase "Don't get sick after June" was in reference to the lack of funding the Indian Health Service has at that time of the fiscal year which meant that services were unavailable to many tribal members. While this is a very serious issue, Carole Anne was able to make light of the situation and remained focused on bettering health care for native peoples throughout Indian Country.

Her Lakota name was Waste Wayankapi Win, meaning "When People See You, They See Something Good." How fitting a name for someone who would spread 'good' throughout Indian Country. On Friday, January 25, 2008, after a courageous battle with cancer, Carole Anne Heart made her journey to the spirit world. I extend my sympathy to her family and those close to her. She will be missed greatly by everyone she touched on her journey through this world.

      Four former NIEA presidents attended the services, along with representatives from the IHS and National Indian Health Board. Tribal chairs from the region recalled her articulate contributions to Indian rights on water, education and health. Remarks about her by South Dakota U. S. Senator Tim Johnson that were published in the Congressional Record were read (see nearby item).

      Carole Anne is remembered as one of the most likable persons in Indian Country, in part, because of her sense of humor. One friend, Gloria Grant recalled one of her often quoted lines: "She would jokingly advertise her possibilities for single Indian men to contact her - with the condition that they have most of their own teeth! She was hilarious to the max!"

      I remember her as a fellow graduate at Marty Mission – St. Paul's High School, Marty, SD. She was also a former colleague and United Tribes employee. She served for nearly 13 years in various leadership roles, including director of the Regional Education Center II, where she worked with over 230 schools districts and contract schools, tribal colleges and tribal leaders from a four state region. When you were with her, even for a brief moment, she made life good with her endearing personality. United Tribes will dedicate a scholarship in her memory to be awarded during the college's spring graduation in May.

      Condolences from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium were expressed by the organization's Executive Director Gerald Gipp: "We are saddened at the passing of this great lady," wrote Gipp. "On behalf of the tribal colleges and universities we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to her daughter and family. AIHEC wishes to honor her life and contributions to Indian country by sponsoring her name to be placed ‘In Memoriam' on the HONOR WALL of the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC. A certificate and location information for her name will be available in about 8 weeks. Because it is in memoriam her name will be indicated with a diamond symbol." The audience at the Mother Butler Center greeted this gesture with a standing ovation.

      Carole Anne is survived by her daughter, Cante Heart, Rapid City, a sophomore at Black Hill State University; her mother, Phoebe Kuecker, Sioux Falls; two brothers, Maynard Heart, Sioux Falls, and Narcisse Heart, Kyle; two sisters, Gloria Heart, Brookings, and Anita Heart, St. Paul, MN; her Hunka sisters, Kathy LaBonte, Lorretta Bad Heart Bull, Marilyn Bad Wound, Collette Keith, and Ann Prairie Chicken; and one grandchild, Ethan Heart, son of Janelle Heart.

      Memorial donations can be made to the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, 1770 Rand Rd., Rapid City, SD, 57702.


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