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Native Leader, Veteran and Pow Wow Head Man Dancer Charlie Harjo Walks On

A story about the passing of Native American leader Charlie Harjo, a Vietnam vet and pow wow dancer, in Wichita, Kansas.
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Charles Anthony "Charlie" Harjo, Choctaw/Creek, has walked on. For more than two decades, Harjo, who served two tours with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, served as a spokesman for the Native American community in Wichita, Kansas, and was often the chairman of the Wichita Intertribal Warrior Society.

Harjo walked on Saturday, March 9, at the VA Medical Center in Wichita from cancer linked to exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant widely used in Vietnam during the war, reports Kansas.com. He was 64.

Often serving as head man dancer, Harjo was active in pow wows. Pow wows, he told a Wichita Reporter in 1994, were meant for all veterans and not just Native Americans. He was instrumental in creating and producing an annual veterans pow wow hosted by the warrior society. He encouraged all veterans – male and female – to attend pow wows.

The Native American community has suffered a blow with Mr. Harjo’s death, Lynn Byrd Stumbling Bear, board member of the Mid-America All Indian Center, told Kansas.com.

“Charlie was a great part of the warrior’s society. That was his niche. But Charlie was also involved in the Indian Alcohol Treatment and part of the sweat lodge,” she said. “He did the most beautiful woodwork, making cedar boxes. Even in the times he was sick, even in those bad times, he never said a bad word about anybody. He just kept going”

Mr. Harjo is survived by his companion, Valerie Schneider, Hutchinson; daughter, Adrienne Nester, Coppell, Texas; sons, Charles Jarrod Harjo and Robert Harjo, both of Wichita; four grandchildren; and brothers, Henry Harjo, Edmond, Oklahoma, and Sean Phinney, Wichita.

Visitation will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Culbertson-Smith Mortuary, 115 S. Seneca. Funeral service is at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

A memorial has been created in Mr. Harjo’s name with the Wichita Intertribal Warrior Society, 850 North Wood, Wichita, Kansas 67212.