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Leaford Bearskin credited with advancing Wyandotte Nation






Leaford Bearskin, the longtime leader of the Wyandotte Nation who died last Friday at the age of 91, is credited with improving the tribe's status in his 29 years as chief.

Bearskin helped the tribe assert self-governance over its health, education and social service programs. He restored the tribe's land base in Oklahoma and Kansas and kept the Wyandotte language alive for future generations.

"We'd be at least 15 years behind where we are now, governmentally, economically - in everything," Chief Billy Friend, who succeeds Bearskin, told The Tulsa World.

Bearskin served in World War II and in the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Medal for Humane Action, among other honors, for his service.

Bearskin retired from the Air Force in 1979. A few years later, he started his career in tribal service.

Get the Story:
Wyandotte chief raised tribe to new heights (The Tulsa World 11/15)

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Leaford Bearskin, Wyandotte Nation leader, passes away at 91 (11/12)