November 9, 2001
Patricia Locke, Champion of American Indians, Dies at 73
Patricia A. Locke, who worked for decades to preserve American Indian languages and became a pioneer in an effort to grant the tribes greater authority in the education of their children, died on Oct. 20 at a hospital in Phoenix. She was 73 and lived in Wakpala, S.D., on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
The cause was heart failure, said her daughter, Winona Flying Earth.
Ms. Locke, of Lakota and Chippewa heritage, won a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1991 for her work to save tribal languages that were growing extinct throughout the United States.
The award followed more than two decades of her advocacy for better education of Indians. In the 1970's, she was appointed to the Interior Department Task Force on Indian Education Policy, and eventually helped write legislation granting tribes the authority to set up their own education departments instead of following state requirements.
Education departments and tribal education codes were ultimately created among more than 30 tribes around the country, and Ms. Locke also helped 17 tribes establish colleges they controlled.
Patricia Ann McGillis was born on Jan. 21, 1928, on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1951. She married Charles E. Locke in 1952; they divorced in 1975.
Ms. Locke taught for more than 40 years, from elementary to university level, and lectured on Indian issues throughout the United States. She worked to protect sacred Indian sites and, starting in 1993, was national coordinator of a coalition that pushed for passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, federal legislation adopted in 1994 that allowed use of peyote for religious purposes.
Ms. Locke's Indian name was Tawacin Waste Win, which, her daughter said, means "she has good consciousness — compassionate woman."
Besides her daughter, who lives in Wakpala, she is survived by a son, Kevin Locke, also of Wakpala, a performing artist who works to preserve Lakota music; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
©Copyright 2001, The New York Times