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United Tribes News

June 12 2014

  A Remembrance for Kelly Baker
Remarks of:
 David M. Gipp, United Tribes Chancellor
Kelly Baker Memorial Service
United Tribes Technical College
June 11, 2014

David Gipp

I wanted to offer a few words of remembrance and tribute to our young relative and friend who has gone on to the Ages. I extend my personal sorrow and condolences to his mother Sheri and father Biron, his brother and all the relatives gathered here, along with friends and acquaintances. I don’t know that any words I can offer today do justice to the loss of Kelly. Yet, I offer them, as do all gathered and those who are not able to be here.

I have known Kelly since he was a young boy and over the years as he grew into Manhood. He was inherently a “good child” and he grew up to be a caring and insightful man. He was impressionable and always examining how he could be a better person and citizen, learning from what he saw and heard from others.

In his family he represents three Tribal Nations: Mandan Hidatsa Arikara of Ft. Berthold, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, and likely some French and English heritage as well. He is part of the United Tribes of the 21st Century.  He is a proud graduate of United Tribes and an alumnus of Minot State University.

At United Tribes he worked in a number of jobs and joined our staff at the front office of the president. He was part of our team at the office and organization.  He was often the first to greet and meet all who came across our path at United Tribes. He was the first to offer and extend a hand of welcome and help. This was often to new visitors, students, staff and faculty, civic and tribal leaders. Indeed, he often provided direct advice and aid to those who needed it as they came to the campus. For this, I thank him. I often called upon him to aid us in preparations for welcoming and setting up meetings and content for campus and other important visitors. As a result, he worked on the details of events and did them with ease and grace. It is the kind of representation I appreciated.

Kelly enjoyed this kind of work and enjoyed meeting old friends, supporters and new ones. He was the first to welcome others into the “United Tribes Family.”  He was an integral part of the United Tribes Family.

This past week, when I visited him, he was busy helping U. S. Attorney, Tim Purdon prepare for the fourth annual Department of Justice Tribal Consultation Meeting. This was with area tribal leaders and public safety officials. Each year, I called on Kelly to help with this gathering. This year the campus hosted not only the conference, but also the U. S. Attorney General. Kelly was on the spot to assist the Secret Service and Mr. Purdon in the preparations for this first time, historic visit by Attorney General Eric Holder. I have to say he looked excellent and quite dashing at the meeting. He was beaming and busy greeting and visiting so many who came from so many places.

Yes, I will miss Kelly, as I know you will. He was part of the Office of the President’s humble team. He always aided in keeping our office on track, along with Vanessa and occasionally Francis Azure, Jr.

Most of all, I know Kelly cared about what he did in his daily chores and assignments. He cared about the students, and knew many as both a past student, and graduate and as a member of the staff. The work and the life at United Tribes was very much part of his passion for living and life. On the social side, he enjoyed going to the casinos in the area with his parents and friends. He enjoyed good movies and concerts. He enjoyed good friendships and family gatherings. He often had good insights and good conversation. He enjoyed his culture, and learning from friends and relatives.

I knew one of his grandfathers, Leonard Bear King, who was one of our first American Indian educators in the ‘50s and ‘60s and was a past teacher and school administrator when Native People were not there yet. Leonard Bear King was the coordinator and director of the national study, “An Even Chance,” funded by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the mid and late 1960s. This study showed the abuse of federal funds under the Johnson O’Malley Education Act, created to serve Indian Children in public schools.  It led to legal and legislative reform to assure such funds reached and served Indian Children. I mention this because this was part of Kelly’s background. His grandmothers were teachers, as well.

As important, Kelly took a strong interest in American Indian Song and Dance. He was a dancer, both in Grass and Traditional dancing, and learned from his father and danced with him and other relatives and friends. They were frequently a part of the song and dance at the United Tribes International Powwow.  There is a wonderful picture of Biron and Kelly dancing at this powwow in one of the past issues of the Bismarck Tribune.

In the new day, Kelly took a strong interest in automobiles and was great at detailing and had a business of his own in the cars of the future. He could tell you more about cars, the type of engines and horsepower and all the other details that make for good driving and care.

I will also add that Kelly gave of himself in his care and concern for you and me and relatives and friends.  He cared about the stranger, as well, who walked into our pages of Life.

He is with the Spirit World, and he is on his Journey. Many of us believe in the Spirits and Spirit World.  He is in a good world; though we would rather he would have stayed a little longer. He is a young man and we know there are so many other things he would have carried out. But what we can appreciate is his time with us, and the good memories and good times with him. My mother, Margaret, always would say “appreciate the people you know while they are with you, and treasure their presence on a daily basis.” This is how we can remember and recall Kelly – today and tomorrow, but always remember he offers you a continuance of a Good Life. Let us remember him through prayer and song and Indian Dance.

Hau, Mitakuye Oyasin (We are All Related), Good Friends. God Bless you all and especially Kelly.



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