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United Tribes News

8 November 2013

      Dr. Jesse Michael Clairmont, 59, Mandan, went on to the Ages, Oct. 21, 2013, with members of his family by his side, at Sanford Health, Bismarck. A memorial and prayer service was held Oct. 23 at United Tribes Technical College. A wake was observed Oct. 24 at St. Bridgett’s Catholic Church, Rosebud, SD, followed by a mass of Christian burial Oct. 25, at St. Bridgett’s and burial at St. Charles Mission Cemetery, St. Francis, SD.

Jesse Clairmont

      Jesse was born May 11, 1954, to the late Viola Iron Shell Clairmont Neault and Jesse M. Clairmont Sr. in Valentine, NB and grew up on the Rosebud Reservation. His family and many friends referred to him as “Junior.” He was a proud but humble citizen of the Rosebud Lakota Sicangu and was a member of one of the largest extended families, referred to as the Ashke’ (Ash-kay).

      He was educated at Chamberlain Indian School, Stephan Indian Boarding School, East High School in Denver and graduated from St. Francis Indian Boarding School in 1972. He attended college at the University of Colorado and Bismarck State College. From 1993-94 he was an arts fellow and did his term at the Minnesota Arts High School and Denver Performing Arts Programs. In his collegiate days, he was a believer in the rights of American Indians and was a member of the Denver Chapter of the American Indian Movement.

      His professional work included working at the Institute of Indian Arts (c. 1973-74) as resident counselor; American Indian Education Coordinator for Indian Programs at the Denver Public Schools (1976-77); Career Development Officer (1977-94); Liaison for United Tribes at the Denver Indian Center (1995-2000); first United Tribes Juried Arts Coordinator and Planner; and United Tribes Arts Gallery Director (2003-13).

      He was a board chair of the Denver Indian Center (c. 1997-99). He worked with the National Indian Education Association as a conference planner and coordinator (1981). He was a founder (1990) of the Miss Indian Nations Leadership Program and Award, which is a young American Indian women’s ambassador program, demonstrating the values and contributions of American Indians to the nation. He was instrumental in working with the United Tribes arts planning committee and oversaw a 15-year college arts plan leading to a curriculum, arts collection, and gallery and long range goals to create education and economic opportunities for American Indian artists. He was an ad hoc member of the planning committee which established the American Indian National Tourism Association. He coordinated the United Tribes International Powwow in the early 1980s.

      Jesse was honored Aug. 23, 2013 by Sinte Gleska University with a doctoral degree in the arts and humanities, Honoris Causa (Cause for Honor), for his contributions to developing American Indian Arts and Humanities. As an artist, he focused on creative beaded design.

      Jesse’s Lakota Sicangu name is ZintKala Ohitika, Brave Bird, and was given permission to be so named, in honor of his maternal great-grandfather, an Itancan (Leader) who was the brother of Chief Iron Shell. Jesse engaged his beliefs as a traditional Lakota in cultural and spiritual practices and ceremonies.

      He is a survived by his siblings Charles, Phyllis, Sharon, Camille and Carmen, and Tresa, and their families; and his friend, David M. Gipp.

      His sister, Donna, preceded him in death. He was always proud and concerned about each of his many nephews and niece, as well as his many takojas (grandchildren). He treasured his maternal grandparents, Susie and Phillip Clairmont at Rosebud and learned many of his traditional ways and language from them. He bids his many relatives and friends a greeting of joy, as he journeys on to the Spirit World and joins his loved ones. He knows the contemporary and traditional songs of life and Sun Dance, as well as those that welcome him and renew him ... He loves all his sisters and brother and special ones ... at the Tree of Life...


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