Karuk Tribal Council Member, Lawyer, Ceremonial Leader Dies
Amos Tripp Helped Restore Ceremonies for Next Generation
Amos Tripp, a member of the Karuk Tribal Council, an attorney for Indian causes and a supporter of ceremonies, was buried Monday in Eureka.
Amos was born July 5, 1943 in Eureka to Amos and Violet Tripp. He grew up in Klamath and attended Klamath Union Elementary School and graduated from Del Norte High School where he was student body president.
He worked in the local mill while also attending Humboldt State University. He graduated from HSU in 1972 and attended UC Davis Law School. He was a partner in the first Indian Law Firm in California from 1976-1979 and then went into private practice for many years.
His legal work often represented Indians and their rights. He worked with the Pitt River People to fight against the California Indian Lands Settlement Claim, and he and his wife never did take the California Indian Money, refusing to sell their land to the State of California.
He worked on fishing rights cases with the California Indian Legal Services and defending and protecting Indian families through the Indian Child Welfare Act. He also did work to help challenge the GO-Road. He taught Federal Indian Law and Water Law classes for many years at Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods.
Amos’ family remembers receiving deer meat and fish, deer hides, crocheted hats and other forms of traditional payment in trade for his lawyer work. Although in the early days he would sometimes wear a suit and tie when he had to go to court, his favorite work and meeting look was his short-sleeved plaid shirts.
He was the first director of United Indian Health Services and later worked for over twenty-five years as their Program Attorney. During his time there he always provided guidance that honored both traditional and legal values.
Amos traveled around the state with his mom Violet, her friend Lena Nicolson, and others, attending Inter-Tribal Council Meetings and participating in the development of many of the foundational Indian Programs that still exist. He later served for ten years on the Humboldt Area Foundation Board of Directors and helped to create the Native Cultures Fund.
In the early 1970s Amos and his family worked closely with Karuk elders Charlie Thom, Shan Davis, Frances Davis, and Fred and Elizabeth Case to restore the brush dance at Katamiin. This was a time when other ceremonies were also getting stronger and Amos was involved in many parts of the cultural revitalization efforts. He was a maker and caretaker of regalia and he later became the dance leader for the Karuk brush dance Camp, a role that became his life’s work.
He was especially proud of all the young people who have chosen to carry on these traditions and he was never happier than he was last year when all four of his granddaughters danced together at Katamiin.
Buster Attebery, the Karuk Tribal Chairman, said, “I learned a lot more about our tribe from Amos and what our tribe has really been through. He brought his education, his knowledge of our ceremonies, our culture, and what all our people, our tribe and the other tribes of the area have been through. He had a plan in mind to correct those things in such a peaceful way. His generation brought back the ceremonies so we have the true meaning of what the Karuk people are. He was very pleased that his generation took the first step and the next generation will take the future steps.”
Josh Saxon, a new council member, said, “Over the last six months serving on the Karuk Council with Amos we’ve had talks, disagreements, explanations, belly laughs…and everything in between.
I’ve thought a great deal over the last six months about the conversations we’ve had about how to be as a Karuk living on the river. I saw by the amount of people who came to his hospital bedside on short notice that I’m not the only one who has been influenced by his life. I’m considerably blessed to have been entrusted with Amos Tripp’s encouraging words: ‘Us old folks, our time is getting shorter, it’s up to you younger ones to carry on with all that energy you have.’”
He is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Maria “Perky” Tripp and his daughter Pimm and her husband Alme Allen and their daughters Ty’ithreeha and Ahtyirahm, and his daughter Kapoon Tripp and Willy Lamebear and their daughters Wateekwashaun and Karamachay.
He is also survived by his older brother Leroy Tripp and Sue, his younger brothers Brian “BDT” Tripp, David Tripp and Jan, and Phillip Tripp and Rose; his sister Helen and Pat Suri and his cousin Mike McGarity; his sisters-in-law Linda “Chub” Hoffman, Sandry Lowry and Candy Gibson. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews as well as by everyone in his spiritual family and the entire dance community.
Amos was proceeded in death by his parents Amos and Violet Tripp, his father-in-law and mother-in-law Walt and Evelina Hoffman, his brother-in-law Walter “Skippy” Hoffman, his nephew Scott Gibson, his close uncle Leland “Junie” Donahue and his close cousin Wilma “Bucky” Mata.
The pallbearers will be his nephews Sonny Tripp, Hector Tripp, Levi Tripp, Justin Tripp, Jasper Tripp, Emilio Tripp, Phillip Tripp, Jr., Walter Hoffman, Robert Hoffman, Micah Gibson, Chag Lowry and Skip Lowry and his great-nephews Mateek Tripp, Imya Tripp and Tyler Gibson.
The honorary pallbearers are Loren, Pyuwa and Guylish Bommelyn; Frank and Koiya Tuttle; Julian Lang; Hot Rod Donahue; Owee Colegrove, Eli Hensher-Aubrey, Joe and Jude Marshall; Joe James; Javier Kinney; Jesse James; Alphonso Colegrove; Gary Juan, Jr.; Thomas “Kahno” Gordan; Boyd Ferris; Glenn Moore; Jai Kibby; Terry and Zac Brown; Andre Cramblit; Terry Supahan; Raymond McQuillen; Reno Franklin; the Quartz Valley Crew; Willard Carlson and the Carlson Boys; Two Feathers Offield; Tim Nicely and Peter Pennekamp.