Catawba Indian Nation Assistant Chief Wayne George passed away Thursday, January 21 at his home in Rock Hill, South Carolina. United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. President Brian Patterson has issued the following statement observing the passing of Assistant Chief George:
The USET Nations are saddened today by the news of the passing of one of its beloved and treasured leaders, Catawba Indian Nation Assistant Chief Wayne George. Our hearts, blessings and prayers go out to Assistant Chief George’s family and to the entire Catawba Indian Nation.
During his lifetime, Assistant Chief George made a great and lasting impact on many tribal nations and individuals in Indian country by being a strong advocate and contributor to his tribal nation and our USET member nations. His passion as a tribal leader has been most noted in the areas of environmental protection, tribal utilities, veteran affairs, and youth initiatives. His tireless work to promote environmental stewardship and searching for resources to strengthen utility operations has helped to empower tribal nations to exercise their sovereignty and rebuild their communities.
While the Catawba Indian Nation is saddened by the loss of such a great leader, it is USET’s hope that hearts and souls in Rock Hill, South Carolina and throughout Indian country are warmed by the empowering legacy of Assistant Chief George, which includes service as a warrior in the United States Marines during the Vietnam War. After his military service, he proudly worked to serve his tribal nation in various capacities, where he diligently worked to build infrastructure and find new resources for the community. Assistant Chief George understood the power and possibilities held by our youth and supported programs like the Boys and Girls Club and Head Start to contribute to their success.
Our daily affirmations should include prayers to follow in his footsteps and build upon his work and legacy. The USET Tribal Nations stand today with the George family and the Catawba Indian Nation to grieve the loss and celebrate the life of a great tribal leader, defender of tribal nation sovereignty, warrior, family man, and friend. He led with a positive attitude and outlook on leadership and life. Regardless of any challenge he faced as a leader for his tribal nation or as a member of the USET Board of Directors, Assistant Chief George encouraged us with a simple phrase, “The future is bright for the Catawba Indian Nation.” Let us commit our prayers and medicine for his journey to unite with our ancestors.
The USET office in Nashville, Tennessee has lowered its flags to half-staff and would request all member tribal nations and Indian country to do the same today through memorial services for Assistant Chief Wayne George.