It is going to be a weekend of mixed emotions in Orange Springs, Florida when the Sovereign Nation of the Oklevueha Band of Yamassee Seminole Indians swap stories about their recently departed Chief Running Buck at a pow wow, February 7 to 10.
“It is to honor his life, his accomplishments,” said Allen Little Buck Buford, now principal chief of the tribe and also known as Chief Little Buck, referring to the memorial pow wow to be held for his father who was 80 years old when he died of a stroke on November 16.
Norman Lee Running Buck Buford was the principal chief of the state-recognized tribe for 18 years. Those years were marked by a history of giving and sharing to his family and friends, his people and his country.
For many who knew the departed Chief, the “2013 Memorial Pow Wow Honoring Chief Running Buck” is a chance to tell the story. The Chief lived a full life, active at the age of 80, a guardian of his people’s heritage, an advocate of education and a patriot.
“There are more than five story tellers, maybe in excess of 10,” said Chief Little Buck, citing the number of people who said they would like to share their fond memories of their beloved Chief Running Buck.
From about 23 vendors that came last year, there are over 50 expected to come to the pow wow. “These are vendors who knew my father. They want to give their respect,” said the Chief, adding that they still get calls from vendors every day.
“He gave me everything. Everything I know—knowledge, love,” said the Chief, 47, who has two brothers and two sisters. His mother, Little Dove, was chief of the tribe before she died in 1994; his father then took over the high post.
Chief Running Buck remarried and is survived by his wife Dalphine White Fawn Buford. They have two sons.
To his people, Chief Running Buck is a hero. He was instrumental in restoring their ancestral land and getting the Sovereign Nation recognition from the Supreme Court for his tribal members, now counting 383, on May 10 2010.
“My father sold his business, homes, everything, to purchase this land back for the tribe,” said Chief Little Buck to ocala.com in an interview after his elder died.
The departed chief’s accomplishments include buying back 95 acres that is now Yamassee Seminole Indian Territory, then working the legal system to win sovereignty recognition for his people under Supreme Court ruling Montoya 1901, said his son.
“He saw how long the process would take, so he went through the court system,” he said, citing that his father paved the way for other tribes to follow the alternative short-cut process compared with the process coursed through the Department of Interior.
Chief Little Buck said there is still a pending application for federal recognition as a Native American tribe.
“He loved his country, loved the state but most of all he loved the children. He understood that education is what our children needed,” said the Chief.
On the last day of the four-day pow wow, the launch of the Running Buck Scholarship will be announced. Scholarships will be given—through the Little Dove Foundation—to deserving students who want to go to college.
“He always took care of the children. He knew they were our future,” he said, noting that during his tutelage a member of the tribe became the first student to graduate from college.
“There is a large Veterans tribute during the pow wow,” said Chief Little Buck, adding that his father was a veteran of the Korean War. In his community, he served as a firefighter and retired as captain of the Ocala Fire Department.
The pow wow promises to be family-oriented with children’s games, story telling, handmade Native craftwork and food, traditional dancing and drumming and cultural and educational presentations by the Native Nations Museum.
Chief Little Buck said he expects about 2,500 visitors to the pow wow. The general public is invited and suggested to donate $2 per person at the gate. Children 11 and under are free.
Aside from daily raffles and Indian auctions is the pow wow competition for $750 in prize money. There are four categories: men’s traditional straight, men’s grassdance and fancy, women’s traditional, buck and cloth and women’s jingle dress and fancy shawl.
Dave Trezak, Whitewolf (Yamassee/Cherokee), Chief Little Buck’s blood brother, has been named MC and will also perform with his wife Vicky. Both are international recording artists. The Yamassee Drum is the head drum.
How do you remember a man who has given so much? There were 26 entries in the legacy.com guestbook in honor of the passing Chief. The Grand Matriarch Chief Red Crow, Yamassee Indian Reservation of South Carolina, expressed her grief this way:
“As humans we mourn the livelihood of our loved one. Just remember the transition has left our beloved ‘Chief’ with no more
pain or grief to bear. Chief will be missed, but the love is never ending. Shonabish chi for all you have done, but your real job is beginning. Much love always.”