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Long-Time Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Leader Clinton Pattea Walks On

Clinton Pattea, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation tribal president, walked on July 5. He served for 50 years and initiated a gaming compact with Arizona.
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Dr. Clinton M. Pattea, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation tribal president, walked on July 5. He served his tribe for more than four decades and initiated a gaming compact with the State of Arizona to allow gaming for his nation and other tribes.

“He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. But, we at Fort McDowell will continue in his legacy of promoting education, preserving our native language, and maintaining our tribal sovereignty and self-reliance,” said Vice President Bernadine Burnette in a release.

Pattea was born in 1931 and grew up in an adobe home with dirt floors and no electricity or running water. He spoke only Yavapai until beginning school.

Pattea graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1959 with a bachelor’s in business and minor in art. The next year he first entered Fort McDowell’s Tribal Council. He was appointed executive director of the Arizona Commission on Indian Affairs, a post he held for 16 years, in 1970.

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As he worked for the tribe, he also fought for the tribe’s rights. The proposed Orme Dam at the confluence of the Verde and Salt Rivers would have flooded most of the reservation, forcing the tribe to relocate, but Pattea and other leaders faced the federal government and saved the reservation.

Pattea held the position of tribal president longer than any other in Fort McDowell history. He has been awarded a number of honors including an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University. In 2009, he was recipient of the Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award presented by the National Indian Gaming Association. On June 29, his lifetime achievements were honored. During that celebration the Dr. Clinton M. & Rosiebelle Pattea Foundation was announced. The foundation honors his passion for education by providing scholarships. In lieu of flowers, donations to the foundation are being accepted at any Wells Fargo Bank.

“Dr. Pattea’s wisdom and endearing smile will be sorely missed,” said Valerie Spicer, executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. “He was truly a visionary.”

In honor of his family’s wish for privacy, there will be no public memorial service a this time.