Longtime Winnebago activist, Frank LaMere, dies at age 69

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(KTIV) – Frank LaMere, a longtime activist known for his decades of work among Native Americans has died.

According to Indianz.com, LaMere passed away June 16.

He was recently diagnosed with bile duct cancer and had undergone surgery earlier this month.

His son, Manape LaMere issued this statement: “At 7:31 p.m., June 16th, 2019. Our father Frank LaMere crossed over to the other side of this river of Life. We’ll make preparations for his journey in the coming days.”

LaMere recently received an honorary degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University in May for his work to shut down the beer stores in Whiteclay.

Frank White, chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, issued a statement about LaMere’s death. He wrote in part: “Frank could be found lending his voice to any issue involving the diminishment of rights of Native American people. His most recent and well-publicized fights for justice were with his successful campaign to end beer sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska, which was lending itself to the rampant alcoholism with nearby Indian reservations…If there was injustice anywhere in Indian Country Frank LaMere likely had a voice in demanding better treatment and injustice. The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, as well as Indian Country in general, has lost one of their staunchest advocates with his passing.”

LaMere was 69 years old.

Lamere not only left an impact on the community.

Those who were close to LaMere say he had a tremendous heart and a passion for people.

Daniel Bear-Shield, a family friend of LaMere, says, Lamere was ‘our Martin Luther King. He served our community well and made our community a better place.’

“I’m going to miss him. When I saw Sunday night that he had passed, I was saddened. He’s just been a great community leader. Not only for the Native Americans, but for the community as a whole,” said Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew.

Drew also says not only would Lamere be missed because he was such an asset to the community, but he was also a kind and caring person.

“Anytime you have an advocate or community leader who’s been so involved in so many important causes in the community, it’s a loss. You have to ask yourself who’s gonna step into that role that Frank occupied. It would be hard to say who that is. Frank was just absolutely tireless in advocating for not only the Native American community, but the homeless community, and substance addicted community,” said Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller.

On Monday Sioux City mayor Bob Scott wrote the following: “On behalf of the City Council, I’d like to share my condolences with the family of Frank LaMere. As many of you are aware, Frank passed away yesterday following a fight with bile duct cancer. As a passionate activist for the Native American community, Frank was instrumental in working with elected leaders, law enforcement, the public health sector, and non-profits to find solutions to issues that face the Sioux City community and beyond. His ability to effectively engage people in difficult discussions about drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness over the years was evident in community initiatives like the Siouxland Street Project. He was looking forward to the opening of a new shelter, Hope Street of Siouxland, that will soon house 10 homeless men who are in recovery and connect them to permanent employment and housing. Frank was an advocate for people who need help but don’t know where to turn. Frank was their voice. He will be greatly missed.”

KTIV’s Michelle Schoening and Leslie London contributed to this story. 

KTIV Staff

KTIV Staff

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