On the evening of April 4 Tribal Chairman Terry Gibson of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of the Duck Valley Reservation on the Nevada/Idaho border crossed over at age 52. According to Gibson’s son, Buster Gibson, he died as a result of a heart attack.
“Chairman Gibson served the people of our community as an employee, council member and as tribal chairman. His presence will be missed and his loss will be felt by not only those locally but by many throughout the nation,” said the tribe in a statement. “We thank you in advance for your condolences, thoughts and prayers during this time.”
Soon after his passing, national and local news publications lauded the tribal leader for his accomplishments, which include convincing the U.S. Air Force to move a bombing range further from his reservation and working with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to create a federally-protected wilderness in the Owyhee canyonlands.
“He carried an absolute commitment to better the lives of the people he led and those of future generations,” Crapo said in a statement. “My prayers are with his wife, Debbie, his children, his family and all of the people of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. While Terry will be sorely missed, his legacy will be felt for many years to come.”
Gibson, while in his second term of office was working to develop a casino project near Boise, Idaho on 26 acres of land in southern Idaho that tribes say were stolen by the U.S. government following the Bannock War of 1877.
After becoming chairman at the age of 41, Gibson sought to follow in the footsteps of his father, Benson Gibson, who was deceased at that time, but had served as a tribal council member for 30 years.
“I will try not to pay a lot of attention to national issues and rather focus on tribal issues," Gibson told BuffaloGirlsProductions.com when he was first elected. “One important issue is to encourage our youth to experience their own religion and spirituality instead of being pushed into different religions.”
“My largest concern is the high amount of unemployment, which leads to violence, domestic disputes and drug and alcohol abuse,” he also said.
While Gibson looked the part of a Shoshone-Pauite, much like his father, his mother, Antionette, Gibson, was originally from France. Benson and Antionette met while he was stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in France.
“He was very knowledgeable with our tribe’s history. He was stern when he needed to be but he always knew how to make others laugh with his crazy jokes,” Terry Gibson’s niece Amber Hunter said. “I will miss his big hugs.”
A funeral service will be held in Owyhee, Nevada today, April 9 at 1 p.m. at the Human Development Center. A Traditional Sunrise Service was held this morning at the family residence.