Beads & Buckskins
items & information
located in the
Little Feather Center,
Pipestone Minnesota.

Biography of Chuck Derby, (Running Elk)

2006 Isle of Wight

Chuck Derby was born in Pipestone Indian School hospital, Minnesota to Ethel (nee Crow) and Harvey in February, 1941 and he has continued to live there ever since. According to tradition, as the family's first born son he inherited the name Chaske. Which has since been mutated to Chuck or Charlie.

After attending Pipestone High school, and Haskell Institute (a post-graduate vocational school for Native Americans,) in Lawrence, Kansas, Mr Derby worked in general construction and natural gas pipeline construction before he began working for the Pipestone National Monument as a general laborer in 1963. He was promoted to Maintenance Supervisor in 1967 and continued in that position until he retired in 1994.

In his personal life Chuck has been working in the quarries since his father first took him there as a small child. He often says that he thought he was playing when he filled his little buckets up with dirt, when he was about five, and it wasn’t until the buckets got bigger and heavier that he realized that this was not playing, but something much harder. He has also been pipemaking for over 40 years, another skill passed down to him from his father. By continuing the quarrying and pipemaking he is following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and ancestors, who quarried prior to the 1860's.

Mr Derby has been a lifelong adherent to traditional values, and has served on many Native American committees and Boards, dealing with various things regarding historical and traditional Native American issues. Not least of these issues involve the quarries, pipemaking and ceremonials. He has been to Washington DC to testify to Congress on behalf of the Native Americans who use the Pipe. In recent years Chuck has served as the elected spokesperson for the Original Pipestone Dakota Tiospaye.

In the 1970's Chuck appeared in the film, 'Hiawatha Pioneer Trail' demonstrating both quarrying and pipemaking. His most recent movie experiences include 'Minnesota River and Fields' in May 2000. Among other venues Chuck participated in was the Festival of Nations in Minnepolis, where many countries exhibited their own unique crafts. He has exhibited in the Minnesota Historical Society at the State Capitol in St Paul and also at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, in the 70's where over 60,000 people visited his exhibit. In 1972 he again demonstrated his work at the Second World Conference on National Parks, where over 90 countries were represented, and at the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha. He has been presenting cultural educational programs with his life and working partner Gloria since 1994.

At the request of Native American elders, Chuck was given the honor of carving an exact replica of the original pipe of the respected Oglala Lakota, Crazy Horse, which was to be used for special purposes at the Crazy Horse Monument in the Black Hills, where he had participated in a Pipe ceremony with Arvol Looking Horse, Charles and Godfrey Chips, Ruth Ziolkowski, (the wife of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski,) and others. Through the years of working with pipestone and making ceremonial pipes Chuck has associated with many Native American elders, spiritual leaders and medicine men, in 1998 he was adopted by the Lakota Spiritual leader Joseph Flying Bye as his son, which was a great honor. He was taught many things by Joe as well as the spiritual leader, the late Amos Owens. By knowing these people he has learned a lot of cultural and spiritual lessons. Due to these ancient teachings he has been able to incorporate traditions into his everyday life, just as his ancestors did many years ago.

In September 2006, Chuck participated in a unique ceremony on the Isle of Wight, UK, with a Druid. The two cultures wove their ceremonies around each other in a respectful way. It was quite amazing the way the two cultures complemented each other. After the ceremonies Chuck and Gloria spoke at a school about cultural values.


chuck dancing
Chuck in his younger years dancing at a powwow with his children, Diana and Ray.
chuck at mankato
Chuck recently after lecturing at Mankato State University.
link to grandpa Joe's recordings
Chuck's adoptive father Joe Flying Bye on a visit to Chuck in 1995.

Grandpa Joe crossed over to the Spirit world, June 22, 2000. He will be missed.

Please click on Grandpa's photo to find information on his teachings. (Center Records)

"Tunkasila wamayang u ye, Tunkasila wamayang u ye, Tunkasila wamayang u ye hey oh, Ikce wicasa ta cannunpe wan, Yuha hoye wa yelo hey, Mitakuye ob wani kyelo, Heyaya hoye wa yelo hey oh."


August 2010 - Sadly Chuck passed away from Pancreatic Cancer on the 7th August. He had been diagnosed only 4 months prior to his passing. It was a shock to us all that he had such a short while to be with us. He is greatly missed.

He is buried in his beloved Pipestone in sight of the Pipestone Quarries that he loved so much.

Written with respect by Gloria Hazell originally for the Little Feather Center web site, Pipestone, MN 1997 - 2005

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