Dr. Lehman Brightman, who taught and made history, has died
In Loving Memory~
Lehman L. Brightman, 1930 ~ 2017
Lehman Brightman, Educator, Activist, College Professor, Veteran, US Marine Corps, Korean Combat, Purple Heart, Father, Grandfather and Social change Icon for Indian Affairs, began his journey to the Spirit World, Sunday June 18, 2017, at Kaiser Hospital, Walnut Creek, California. Lehman lived his life in service to his Country and to American Indian People. When he saw a wrong, he took action to correct it!
Lehman L. Brightman was a ‘icke wicasa’, or common man in Lakota. A ‘icke wicasa’, lives by the principles of that term, in that he does not put himself above others, works as a warrior for his people, and lives his life in a good way, with respect and caring for the people.
This was Lehman Brightman, a warrior who fought for his people, standing in defiance to defend the rights of Native Americans. Where some men dream to lead, Lee stood up and led people to dream and achieve.
Lehman Brightman, a proud Sioux and Creek Indian was born April 28, 1930 to Lehman (Poogie) Brightman, Muscogee Creek, Eufaula, Oklahoma and Phoebe Kingman Brightman on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He died Sunday, June 18, 2017 at the age of 87, with his loving, devoted son Quanah at his side at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Walnut Creek, California.
Lee is survived by his son Quanah Parker Brightman, grandchildren Quanah Parker Burcell, Lozen Brightman, Phoebe Brightman and Star Brightman. Cousins, Debra Claymore/Cuny, Janet Ross, Mike Claymore, Connie Claymore/Schlotthauer, Vickie Claymore, Andrea Kingman/Robideau, A. Gay Kingman. Members: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Butch Felix, Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife Trudy Felix Brightman, Member Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and sons, Lehman L. Brightman III. and Lakota Gall Brightman. Countless students, colleagues, Relatives and friends also mourn the loss of this legendary activist.
Lehman grew up in Indian Country, living in Oklahoma and on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, where his mother’s people were from. Growing up, he saw the unjust treatment of fellow Native people and he saw the poverty. His experiences and strong sense of social justice would shape his life as a leader, a teacher and an activist.
Lehman graduated from Eufaula High School in Eufaula, Oklahoma. A consummate athlete, Lehman excelled in sports, track and as a running back at Oklahoma State University. He was All American in Football and went on to play Pro Football in Canada until he injured his knee. After enlisting in the United States Marine Corp, Lehman served in Korea, where he was wounded in combat. He returned home with a Purple Heart, awarded for bravery and a renewed sense of purpose. He earned his Bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University and continued his education at UC Berkeley, where he earned his Master’s degree and completed the coursework for his Doctorate.
It was glaringly apparent to him that history and education were lacking regarding the truths of American Indians. As an activist and a professor, he set out to make a change. In 1968, he founded United Native Americans, an Indian nonprofit organization to promote the progress and general welfare of American Indians. In 1969, he established and coordinated the first Native American Studies program in the United States at UC Berkeley while he was working on his Doctorate Degree. Lehman continued his career as a professor at the University of California - San Diego, Sacramento State University, DQU and Contra Costa College.
As an activist, often with his wife Trudy (Sicangu Lakota) at his side, Lee was determined to make a difference in Indian Country. He served as director of the San Francisco American Indian Center. If there were those in need, or cause to rally for those in need, Lehman was there. He was an eloquent speaker, capturing any audience with his wit, wisdom, clarity with a plethora of salty, ribald flavor. The media loved his powerful speeches and were drawn to him anytime he spoke. Lehman’s activism began in the Bay Area, but it extended worldwide. Lehman was involved in the occupation of Alcatraz and the takeover of Wounded Knee, and led the takeover of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota in 1970. Lee opened his home to Dennis Banks when he was a fugitive after the conflict at Wounded Knee, because he followed the way of an ‘icke wicasa’.
Lehman led investigations into seven Indian boarding schools and reservation hospitals, testifying in two U.S. Senate hearings on the poor service and abusive treatment of Indian people. He voiced his outrage about the sterilization of Native women in Indian hospitals and the medical experiments performed on Native people, including children without their full knowledge and consent. When he found out the Rapid City School System claimed a 2-mile limit and was going to stop the bus route to Children of Sioux Edition in North Rapid City, he went home to South Dakota and with friends, followers and the Media, he walked the distance to demonstrate and witness the length was far less than 2 miles so the children got their bus service.
Lehman Brightman is the former editor of the first National Indian newspaper called Warpath and author of numerous articles on federal boarding schools and the history of Indian Education. He traveled to Hampton, Virginia where his Grandfather “Kills First” Harry Kingman, went to school in the late 1890’s. Lehman did research on his Grandfather and early Boarding Schools. It is noted that Lehman’s Lala (Grandfather) Harry Kingman, as a young 7-year-old boy, witnessed the Battle of Little Big Horn from the Sioux Camp, when the Sioux defeated Custer. Then, some 15 years later, Kingman, went to School at Hampton Virginia.
Lehman was sought after by the Press and was a favorite of mainstream American media, he was a guest on the Phil Donahue show and did multiple guest spots on television and radio in the Bay Area and various places across the US.
In 1977, he was the first American Indigenous leader to meet Gandhi’s Fuji Guruji, and witnessed the Tokyo to Hiroshima Peace March by Guruji’s followers. Soon after, initiated with other Indigenous leaders, the Longest Walk of 1978 became the first ceremony in history to unite all the Indigenous tribes. Lehman was one of the National Coordinators of the Longest Walk in 1978 and The Long Walk for Survival in 1980.
In 2009, Lehman was honored by KQED-San Francisco during American Indian Heritage Month for his outstanding work in the American Indian community. In 2015, he was honored by the Indigenous Peoples United Nations (IPUN) Charter Ceremony, as an IPUN predecessor. These were but a few of the times he was honored for his dedication to Indian Country.
Lehman was an eloquent speaker and as a Sundancer, he held strong traditional spiritual beliefs. He was a son, a husband and father, a veteran, an activist, an educator, an author, an academic, a publisher, a leader, an elder and an ‘icke wicasa.’
In his honor and legacy, may we all fight the good fight for our people.
In his own Words: "Every mile of this country is stained with Indian blood, and every mile contains the bones of our ancestors. They fought and died that we may be here. The least we the living can do is to continue that fight. We are American Indians." Lehman Brightman
#Please RSVP for Mr Brightman's Funeral Services.
Mr Brightman's Funeral will be on Friday, June 30, 2017 8 am to 10 am at the
Hunn, Black & Merritt Funeral Home
401 N. Main St.
918 [phone redacted]
Burial: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 10 am to Noon at The Greenwood Cemetery Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma
Burial with military honors: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm (estimated arrival time)
We are also need help in finding a Drum to Sing Honor Songs for Lehman Brightman and Dancers who would like to dance.
Refreshments: Community Pot Luck. Please Bring Food & Drinks to Share.
If You Can Help out with a Large or Small Contribution, Please Send to :
165 22nd Street
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) [phone redacted]
#MoneyGram or #WesternUnion are Appreciated