of Chuck Derby, (Running Elk)
February 1941 - August 2010
Derby was born in Pipestone Indian School hospital, Minnesota
to Ethel (nee Crow) and Harvey in February, 1941 and he
continued to live there for the rest of his life. 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. Many
people thought of him as the Caretaker of the Quarries while
he worked there.
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 40 years, another skill passed down
to him from his father. By continuing the quarrying and pipemaking
he followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather,
and ancestors, who quarried prior to the 1860's.
Mr Derby was a lifelong adherent to traditional values,
and had served on many Native American committees and Boards,
dealing with various things regarding historical and traditional
Native American issues. Not least of these issues involved
the quarries, pipemaking and ceremonials. He had been to Washington
DC to testify to Congress on behalf of the Native Americans
who use the Pipe. In recent years Chuck 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 included 'Minnesota
River and Fields' in August 2009. 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.
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
Sadly he didn't live long enough to make that Pipe.
Through the years of working with pipestone and making ceremonial
pipes Chuck associated with many Native American elders,
spiritual leaders and medicine men, in 1998 he was adopted
by the now late, Lakota Spiritual leader Joseph Flying Bye
as his son, which was a great honor. He was taught many things
by Grandpa Joe as well as the spiritual leader, the late Amos
Owens. By knowing these people and others he learned a
lot of cultural and spiritual lessons. Due to these ancient
teachings he was able to incorporate traditions into
his everyday life, just as his ancestors did many years ago.
recent years Chuck concentrated on the educational aspects
of quarrying, pipe making and cultural awareness and had been
presenting the unique cultural educational program Beads
& Buckskins in both the States and Europe with his wife, life
and working partner, Gloria since 1994*.
Both followed the traditional ways. Chuck had in the past few
years filmed three DVD's one on Pipemaking, one on the history
of the Pipestone area and the Pipe, and another that is being
edited at the moment of quarrying. All of these DVD's were
available at the Center.
In this new millennium Chuck continued to be a humble,
passive, proletarian quietly working for Native American rights
both in Pipestone and elsewhere. Sadly in April 2010 Chuck was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in August 2010 in his beloved Pipestone,
surrounded by his wife, daughter, sisters, family and friends. He is sadly missed by us all.
Neither Chuck or Gloria pretend to be a Medicine Person or spiritual
they were just presenters of these cultural ways of life which
could die if they are not perpetuated. This program was started NOT
to show you how to pray or how to perform ceremonies, it was NOT
a so-called 'Shamans' course either. Chuck and Gloria did
NOT advocate that the participants copy these ways.
Although they do both believe that everyone has to be true to
their own calling and spiritual path. They ask that everyone
is respectful to one anothers path and belief system.
with his daughter Diana, son-in-law Richard and Kevin Costner,
and Gloria September 2008
and Wyatt at the Sundance quarry, September 2009
of Chuck's Great, Great Grandfather that we found last week
He was a scout in the 1860's.
site designed by
Graphics by Gloria Hazell 1997 - 2009
the feather bar)