NIGA joins the White Mountain Apache Tribe in mourning the passing of Chairman Ronnie Lupe

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August 14, 2019

Whiteriver, Arizona – August 12, 2019 – Early this morning, the White Mountain Apache Tribe loss one of its most influential Tribal leaders in former Chairman Ronald “Ronnie” Lupe.

On the night of January 1, 1930, Ronnie Lupe was born in a traditional Apache shelter known as “Wickiup” in Cibecue, Arizona amid celebratory gunfire. He was fluent in the ancient ways of Apache songs and prayers. He passed away August 12, 2019. He was 89 years of age.

Since 1964, Mr. Lupe has served the people of the White Mountain Apache Tribe in an elected leadership capacity. He was first elected as District III Tribal Council in 1964 and served on the Tribal Council with his father – the late-Nelson Lupe. In 1966, he was elected the youngest Chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe at the age of 36. Chairman Lupe has been elected Chairman for nine terms, a historic feat. For 10 years, he has also served the Apache people as a member of the Tribal Council with four and two-year terms. In total, he had served the White Mountain Apache people in leadership of 54 years.

Mr. Lupe has volunteered and served our country in the United States Marine Corps in 1951. He is a member of the 1st Marine Division; Item Company; 3rd Battalion; 1st Marines Regiment. He is a veteran of the Korean War.

Chairman Lupe received special recognition from State of Arizona Governor Jack Williams in 1968 to serve as a member of the Arizona Commission oflndian Affairs. He was elected “First Vice-President” of the National Congress of American Indians in 1969 and 1970. Chairman Lupe has served as President of the Apache Alliance in 2012-2014. He was also a member of the President’s Advisory Board of Northern Arizona University.

Chairwoman Gwendena Lee Gatewood said, ” The White Mountain Apache Tribe has lost one of its greatest leaders this morning. Former Chairman Ronnie Lupe had an illustrious career in the development of the Tribe and Indian Country. Today he’s gone home and we’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages. Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Ronnie Lupe transformed the Tribe and moved all of us. It has been an honor and privilege to work for him. I remain forever grateful for his teachings, vision and philosophy. He will be missed God bless you all.”

Former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah said “I’ve always admired him. He was one of my mentors and heroes. I will always remember and cherish our friendship. Chairman Lupe was a great leader of White Mountain Apache Tribe, especially in legal cases brought before the judiciary. He won major cases and established precedent for Indian Country. “

Chairman Lupe unleashed a true vision, a revolution of many projects that ended with exemplary results. His foresight of creating goals, capitalizing on opportunities, and at the end, advancing with progress for the White Mountain Apache people is the epitome of his powerful caliber of leadership. Here are three major successful projects. To the east sits one of Arizona’s premiere winter destinations, the Sunrise Ski Park. Sunrise employs over 400 people! The Hon-dah Casino and Resort winner of many Better Business Practices Awards employs 427 people.

Finally, with solid leadership “Miner Flat” is slated to become a meaningful reservoir where fresh clean, drinking water will be stored and sustained for over a hundred years. Mr. Lupe is a real visionary and an impeccable trailblazer! He has been a walking groundbreaker over the last 54 years!

“For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Ronnie Lupe lived, a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. May God bless his memory and keep him in peace. ” says Chairwoman Gatewood.

Donations and support assistance can be sent to the Office of the Chairwoman through Chief of Staff Jerry Gloshay, Jr. at and (928) 594-0310.

Services include a wake set for Friday, August 16 at 10:00 am at 205 N. 5th Avenue in Whiteriver, Arizona, followed by a rosary to be held at 6:00 pm at the Whiteriver Catholic Church Burial service set for Saturday, August 17, 2019, at 10:00 am. (Location to be determined)