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2009 American Indian Heroes

Lehman Brightman

Lehman Brightman
United Native Americans, Inc.

Lehman L. Brightman is a Sioux and Creek Indian who was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He is the father of three boys -- Lehman Jr., Gall and Quanah and currently lives in Pinole, California. Professor Brightman is the founder and National President of United Native Americans, Inc. a non-profit Indian organization formed in 1968, to promote the progress and general welfare of American Indians. In his capacity as President of UNA Mr. Brightman has testified in Two U.S Senate Hearings on the Deplorable Conditions of Indian Boarding Schools and Hospitals on Reservations. He has also led investigations of Seven Indian Boarding Schools and Three Indian Hospitals due to the Poor Service and Abusive Treatment of Indian people. He is a Former Football and Track Star at Oklahoma State University where is earned a B.A. Degree, he has an M.A. Degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Brightman is an ex-Marine and served one year in the Korean conflict where he was wounded in action. He was a disinterested student going through the motions during high school and college in order to play football. However, when be joined the Marines, he found a renewed sense of purpose. "When I came back from the Marine Corps, I had straightened up," he says. "It taught me to be responsible. Most people who served in the Marines are proud of it. Before the Marines, my life wasn't structured. I've lived my whole life since structured, and I learned that from the Corps." He established and coordinated the first Native American Studies Program in the United States at UC Berkeley in 1969, and has since taught at the University of California San Diego, Sacramento State University, Contra Costa College in San Pablo, and DQ-University , near Davis, California. Brightman is the author of numerous articles on the History of Indian Education and the Federal boarding schools. He is the former editor of the first national American Indian newspaper, Warpath, and was involved in the ocupation of Alcatraz, the take-over of Wounded Knee, and led the ocupation of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota in 1970. He was also one of the national coordinators of the Longest Walk in 1978, and the Long Walk for Survival in 1980. At the present time Mr. Brightman is writing a book on the history of the Indian civil rights movement from the 1960s to the present.

Gayle Burns

Gayle Burns
Native American AIDS Project

Gayle Burns is a Muskogee (Creek) Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother of two boys. She was born in Passaic NJ. Her maternal and paternal great grandparents relocated to NJ and NY from the Southeast Homeland, descendants of Muskogee's (Creek), Gullah Geechees, and the Israeli. Most of her uncles served in WWII, the Korean War, and later years the Vietnam War. They were proud, hard working people and most and most of them made their living in the factories. Her family knew the value of education if they were to survive in two worlds. Her grandparents had very little education, but were very smart, strong, wise and humble. Her grandfather was the story teller through his story's we learned about our People. Her lessons learned growing up: Respect my elders and believe in myself, Work hard at what ever you do and believe in.

She received training in HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Colorado, Department of Public Health in 1992 and also became a Certified Addiction Counselor I in Denver. She Worked at Arapaho House Residential Alcohol and Drug Program and in 1993 moved to Albuquerque, N.M. where she worked for Five Sandoval Indian Pueblo and was stationed at Pueblo De Cochiti as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor, later becoming the Prevention Coordinator for the five Pueblos, a member of the Child Protection Services. In1994, she received an award for The Cochiti Chapter of Concerned Parents of American Indian Children. Gayle moved to the Bay Area in 1995 started working at the Native American AIDS Project in 2000 as an HIV/AIDS Health Educator and then later as a Prevention Case Manager. In 2001, she became a council member of the San Francisco HIV Prevention Planning Council and was later elected and served two terms as a community co-chair for the HIV Prevention Planning Council and was a member of the Transgender Advisory Committee. In 2003, she served as a board member at Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland. On a National level, she is a member of the Urban Coalition of HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS), a collaboration of nine cities in the US, working with AIDS Action, Health and Human Services of Washington DC and lobbying on Capital Hill. In September 2009, she was asked to serve as a Community Advisory Board member on the Department of Public Health Research Prevention Section National Medical Monitoring Project, a CDC surveillance project designed to learn more about people living with HIV. She is also a Member of Medicine Warriors All Nation Singers Pow Wow and Events Committee.

Cathy Chapman

Cathy Chapman
Native American Health Center

Cathy Chapman participated in the Longest Walk of 1978. She was part of a group of young people who made a commitment to go back to their communities and to try and make a better way of life for her people. In 1981, she was recruited to become a certified labor coach at Highland Hospital for the Native American Health Center in Oakland. Cathy worked full time for the Native American Health Center as a CHR-Community Health Worker, in the Perinatal department. She was instrumental in developing a team of labor coaches from different tribal backgrounds and creating a "cultural bridge" between the patients and the medical staff of the clinic and hospitals.

Cathy became involved in Community Radio in 1985. She was asked to participate in the first apprenticeship program at KPFA-FM and produced at KPFA for ten years. She still produces a few programs a year as an independent producer. In 1988 Cathy produced a radio special on HIV in Indian Country, which profiled a new organization, the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center. The information presented in this radio special impacted Cathy so much so that she began spreading the word of HIV in the Native Community and thus began her work in HIV prevention.

She left the work in San Francisco in 1998 to assist in the care of elder relatives in Arizona, and returned to the Native American Health Center in 2006 and began working with some of the same clients that she had worked with at the Native American AIDS Project. She is currently employed as an HIV/ Substance Abuse Case Manager in the Circle of Healing, at the Native American Health Center of San Francisco. Cathy Chapman is of Chiricahua Apache & Yaqui descent.

Ras K'dee

Ras K'dee
Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG), Audiopharmacy

Ras K'dee is a Native California (Pomo)/African musician and is the co-founder and director of a Native youth media organization, Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG). He leads workshops weekly with Native youth and co-hosts the radio program "Bay Native Circle" on KPFA 94.1 FM in Northern California. He is a renowned lyricist, producer, and lead vocalist/keyboardist for Audiopharmacy. He has just returned from attending an Indigenous Youth Delegation to Palestine and a European tour with his band.

Mary Jean Robertson

Mary Jean Robertson
Voices of the Native Nations - KPOO 89.5 FM

Mary Jean Robertson, Tsa La Gi, Cherokee Nation Citizen, is a Superior Court Deputy Clerk in San Francisco, a job she took in order to pay for her radio habit. She has been a programmer on the "Native American" show on KPOO Radio 89.5 FM in San Francisco for 37 years. The show used to be called "Red Voices" and is now called "Voices of the Native Nations." The show is on the third, fourth and fifth Wednesday of every month from 6-8pm. It is a magazine format show with interviews, announcements, music and Pow Wow information. KPOO, 89.5FM in San Francisco, can be streamed online at www.KPOO.com. Mary Jean is the Community Relations Council woman and is hoping to get a Cherokee Nation Consular office officially recognized by the US State Department in the San Francisco Bay Area to promote trade and travel with the Cherokee Nation and to promote the Cherokee Nations' artists, writers, craftsmen and products.

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