Dakota Whitecloud walks on at age 69

Tribal Elder Dakota Rae Sangretta-Whitecloud, a former longtime Tribal employee and two-time Tribal Council candidate, walked on Thursday, Aug. 10, at the age of 69.

Whitecloud was born Nov. 11, 1947. She was raised near Woodburn, Ore., and was a fifth generation member of the Holmes family. Her mother was Pearl McGee and her grandmother was Theresa (Holmes) Zavadoski. Her great-grandmother was Mary Holmes and her great-great-grandfather was Kalapuya Chief and treaty signer Joseph Sangretta.

Dakota Sangretta-Whitecloud

Her father’s side of the family was Sioux and Apache (Wolf and Eagles Clans, respectively).

According to her 2011 Tribal Council candidate statement, she lived in the Willamette Valley most of her life, but she also lived in the Umpqua Valley before returning home to Grand Ronde. She worked for the Tribe, starting in August 1989 and retiring in May 2011. At the time of her retirement, she was the sixth longest-serving Tribal employee.

She worked in the Executive, Legal and Finance offices before going to work for Tribal Council as its Relations Coordinator in 2004. She was known for her encyclopedia-like knowledge of the Tribe and her loyalty.

According to a 2011 Smoke Signals story about her retirement, Whitecloud was instrumental in bringing Travis Benoist (Cheyenne River Sioux) to bless Spirit Mountain Casino when it opened. She also initiated the door prizes that have been a hallmark of General Council meetings ever since.

Whitecloud also wrote five ordinances for the Tribe. “I’ve written enough policy to fill this office,” she said. “It needed to be done. I knew how to do it. I just did it.”

After working for Tribal Council for many years, she ran for a seat on the governing body twice – in 2011 and ’10. Both times, she was nominated by her daughter, Christina Trevino-Jungers.

In both of her runs for Tribal Council, she supported better long-range planning and broader membership involvement in Tribal government.

In addition to working for the Tribal government, she was a past-member of the Education, Archaeology and Powwow committees, as well as the Election and Housing Authority boards. She also served as chair of the Veterans Special Event Board.

“She was very much a traditional Native woman,” Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. said. “She knew where she came from and never forgot that. She was rock solid in her beliefs. She had her opinion and it was from historical teachings, and she stayed very strong on those.”

Giffen said Whitecloud, who was a distant relative, made his regalia and gifted him her eagle fan, which is a treasured possession.

“She was a really good friend,” he said. “She always treated you the way you treated her. There was never any BS. It was straight to the point when she talked to you.”

Upon her retirement, Whitecloud said she was going to tend to her yard at her Grand Meadows home and continue with her craft projects. She also continued to attend Tribal Council meetings occasionally, passionately expressing her opinion on matters of importance.

Whitecloud is survived by two children, Christina and Ken Trevino. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Cynthia Leann Trevino Jr.-Williams, in 2008.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, in the Tribal gym, 9615 Grand Ronde Road. A meal will follow the service in the Elders Activity Center. Burial will occur at a later date at the Holmes family cemetery in Grand Ronde.

Bollman Funeral Home of Dallas is caring for the family.