When learning of the recent death of the great leader Wilma Mankiller, former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, I was reminded of the critical importance of tribal activities in the family histories of Native Americans. A history of such families cannot be adequately researched and compiled without a thorough understanding of the history of the Indian nation, its clans and its tribal leaders.

Local historian and publisher Fredrea Gregath Cook recently compiled a book about the life of another contemporary leader of an Indian nation. That leader is Leaford Bearskin, chief of the Wyandotte Nation.

Like Chief Mankiller, Chief Bearskin has also effectively led his people for many years. After serving as an Air Force bomber pilot and flying more than 46 missions during World War II, he served in the federal civil service before being elected as chief — a position he has held for 26 years.

During a workshop a few years ago at the Wyandotte Nation Tribal Center, I was honored to meet this exceptional leader. I was impressed by his hospitality, dedication, calm demeanor, positive approach to life and great sense of humor.

The name of Cook’s book is “Kwa-hoo-sha-ha-ke (Flying Eagle), American Indian Warrior Hero, A Glimpse Into the Life of Leaford Bearskin, Chief of the Wyandotte Nation.” The authorized book covers the life of Chief Bearskin from early childhood in the Wyandotte Reserve to his current position as head of the nation.

The stunning photographs on the cover aptly depict the extraordinary life of Chief Bearskin. The 7-by-10-inch book has 126 pages and is softbound. It sells for $20.

For more information about the book, contact: Gregath Company, Inc., P.O. Box 505, Wyandotte, OK 74370. Also, call 800-955-5232 or e-mail book@gregathcompany.com.

The official Web site for the nation is www.wyandotte-nation.org. According to the site, early tribal members settled in 1701 in the region of Michigan that is now Detroit. In 1843, the nation was forced to move west of the Mississippi River.

The tribe then bought land from the Delaware Nation. That land was at the mouth of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. The town that grew where they settled was named Wyandotte City. Later, it became known as Kansas City, Kan.

To learn more about Chief Bearskin and the Wyandotte Nation, check its Web site.

Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, P.O. Box 731, Joplin, MO 64802, or contact: frankiemeyer@yahoo.com.

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