For those who are familiar with the names and leaders for indigenous rights within the past 40 years, the name Carter Camp needs little introduction.
A Ponca tribal member and a leader of the American Indian Movement’s Oklahoma Chapter, his name was among the many involved with the milestones of the early 1970s Red Power movement. These include the Trail of Broken Treaties, the Bureau of Indian Affairs takeover in Washington, D.C. and the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973. On this earth, Camp fought his final battle with cancer on December 27, 2013 on Ponca tribal land near White Eagle, Oklahoma.
During a television interview later used as part of the PBS series American Experience: We Shall Remain—Wounded Knee, Camp is quoted as saying “I don’t see why the North Vietnamese should take precedence over the American Indian people.”
In Peter Matthiessen’s book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, a tome that documents the American Indian Movement from its inception through Leonard Peltier’s federal incarceration, a scene is recreated through interviews about the first evening at Wounded Knee. A meeting took place with AIM members and Oglala Lakota tribal members. During the course of the meeting, a statement was written that demanded hearings based on federal obligations going back to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Camp is quoted at this meeting as saying “We want a true nation, not one made up of Bureau of Indian Affairs puppets.”
In addition to his work for indigenous rights, he was also involved in environmental causes, most recently being an active opponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline. His traditional ceremonial life included participating in the Sun Dance at Crow Dog’s Paradise on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.
Yet, beyond the name and the public work, Camp was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother and uncle.
“I’d say my brother Carter was such a warrior in terms of peace,” said his sister, Casey Camp-Horinek. “He had unending respect and love for everyone. He had the strength as a man to honor all women, his little sister included.”
Camp-Horinek also said her brother “was most passionate about the sacred ways of the Red Nations and our ability to continue on this Mother Earth in the way that our ancestors intended us to live, in the way that Wakonda [Ponca word for “The Creator”] set in front of us.”
Camp-Horinek expressed the need for prayers at this time, especially for Linda, Camp’s wife.
“[Linda] has been his half side for such a long time,” Camp-Horinek said. “She took such good care of him. There’s no way that we, as his family, can do more to honor our brother than to ask for prayers for our sister-in-law.”
Prayer services were held the evening of December 30 and funeral services on December 31 at the Ponca Tribal Cultural Center at White Eagle, Oklahoma. Burial will take place at the Ponca Tribal Cemetery.