Cordelia Dupris

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January 27, 1923 – February 12, 2014.

Cordelia (Iron Lightning) Dupris, 91, passed away Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at her home in Eagle Butte. Funeral services were held Monday, February 17, 2014 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Eagle Butte. Burial was at the Dupris Family Cemetery in Iron Lightning. Cordelia Iron Lightning (Wayang Hipi Win “Came to See Her) was born January 27, 1923 in the Fox Ridge area south of Eagle Butte to Grant Sr. and Mollie (High Elk) Iron Lightning who were both members of the Hohwoju band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Cordelia was raised in a traditional Lakota speaking home where Lakota was the dominant language. The Iron Lightning family history includes participation in traditional life ways that were discouraged by the U.S. government and eventually limited to a fragmented process of daily life on a reservation. The Christian missionaries influenced the life styles found on the reservation. This chosen path led Cordelia to accepting her role as a dedicated member of the Episcopal Church, first affiliated with St. Luke’s Church in Iron Lightning and later with St. John’s in Eagle Butte. Cordelia attended the rural Butler day school in Ziebach County until the 6th grade. She attended the Cheyenne Agency Boarding School through the 11th grade. Cordelia met a tall handsome cowboy who was a descendent of the legendary Fred Dupris who was known for helping to save the buffalo from total extinction. Cordelia was married to Wilmer Dupris Sr. by a Justice of the Peace in Dupree on September 28, 1942. They made their residence in Iron Lightning until the later 50’s when they moved to the John Stoval Ranch located up the Moreau River near Flintrock Creek. This became their ranch headquarters. Cordelia spent her time between the ranch and her parents’ home located west of the Iron Lightning community, helping her parents until their passing. Wilmer and Cordelia had 10 children— Barbara, Wilma Ramona, Douglas, Casey, Kermit, Wilmer Jr., Dana Q., Jacqueline Marie, Carol, and Constance. Cordelia was a stepmother to David “Bud” Dupris (deceased). The daily life ranch involved shared meals, gardening, ranch work and raising two handfuls of kids. Her kitchen was open to many neighborhood kids who chose to stay for extended visits. The ranch included a barn and corrals that became a gathering point for sandlot basketball games and makeshift rodeos as the ranch livestock consisted of over 250 head of Hereford cattle and a couple hundred head of horses. The family tried raising bucking stock and later raced horses. The bucking horses were gathered from the Eunice Larabee and Sandy Frazier herds. John and Austin Stoval started the family in the Quarter Horse business. Cordelia’s siblings are Florence Lafferty, Caroline Cook-Fiddler, Delores Hartfield, Amy Curley, Veronica Iron Lightning, John “Snoose,” Peter and Grant Jr. “Sonny,” and Dale. An event that brought an end to the ranching lifestyle was the end of the rehabilitation era where most Lakota ranchers lost all of their livestock, farm machinery, riding tack and were forced to move from their tribal allotments to the agency headquarters or find employment off-reservation. The “relocation” era impacted families and soon the independent and productive rural communities lie empty of its inhabitants. Cordelia sought employment when she and her husband moved into her sister Florence’s home in Eagle Butte before eventually securing housing in the Meadowlark Hill area. In 1974 she was employed as a nurse’s aide at the local IHS Hospital and worked in some capacity until retiring in 1988. She was instrumental in the retention of the Lakota language and culture by working as a patient advocate for the Lakota speaking patients. After retiring, Cordelia learned how to do bead work from Andrea Rave and was soon noted for her sunburst pattern coin purses, medallion and bolo ties. As well as other beaded Lakota and western regalia. She also baked some delicious meals that were topped off with her special “poor cake” which was made with love. She continued to foster “her children” by taking and raising some grandchildren, starting with Baby Casey, and Calli, to Happy, Bearsey, and finally Squishey, just to name a few. Cordelia is the Grandma to 40 takojas, 89 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. In addition to this she at some time cared for a total of 72 nieces and nephews. Cordelia was a member of the “Winyan Omniciye,” a woman’s organization, American Legion Auxiliary Post 191, North American Indian Women’s Association, and was a loyal supporter of veterans organizations. Cordelia was chosen NAIWA “Woman of the Year” in 1997 for her dedication and commitment to promoting and strengthening awareness of Lakota culture. Cordelia’s belief in the Lakota traditions held firm when she completed the “hunka” process by adopting some special children— Susie Payne, Steven Smith, Lloyd “Dana” Jensen (deceased), and John Bachman. Cordelia lost her husband Wilmer Sr. on January 24, 1996 after 53 years of marriage. She lost four children—Wilma Ramona who died as an infant; Jacqueline Marie on February 2, 1968; David “Bud” on August 21, 2004 and; Casey “Big Casey” on July 22, 2007. Cordelia lost a daughter in-law Veltina Dupris on January 22, 2014. She won her battle against breast cancer, endured brain surgery, multiple strokes and various other illnesses. Cordelia is survived by her sister Veronica Iron Lightning of Eagle Butte; six sons— Douglas (Eleanor) Dupree Sr., Dana (Wynema) Dupris of Iron Lightning, Kermit (Nancy) Dupris of Eagle Butte, Wilmer “Fred” Dupris of Fort Yates, ND, John (Lily) Bachman of Eagle Butte, and Stephen (Sarah) Smith of New York; four daughters— Barbara Dupris of Iron Lightning, Carol (Tom) Knight and Constance Dupris of Eagle Butte and Susie (Steve) Payne of Sturgis. Luce Funeral Chapel is entrusted with Cordelia’s arrangements.
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