WINNEBAGO, Neb. — Cora "Nicky" Solomon, 88, of Winnebago, Nebraska died peacefully on April 27, 2021 at Winnebago Treaty Hospital (Twelve Clans Unity Hospital).
Services were held Saturday, May 1, 2021 at Ho-Chunk Community Center in Winnebago, with Mr. Nate Merrick officiating. Burial services were at Evergreen Cemetery, Walthill, Nebraska, with arrangements under the direction of the Winnebago Wake and Burial Program.
Nicky was born on February 11, 1933, to Maximo Reyes dela Pena and Ruth Bernadette Armell, at the home of her grandfather, Louis H. Armell, located on the Oliver Armell allotment, Winnebago, Nebraska.
After losing her father at a very young age, she was primarily raised by her mother in the home of her grandfather, Louis Armell. Nicky was strongly influenced by her grandfather’s good works and honorable teachings she often spoke of throughout her life. Nearing her teenage years, she and her sister were moved to California to reside with her father’s family while her mother worked long hours. There she remained until graduating high school in 1951 from Brawley Union High School in southern California. Nicky graduated at the very top of her high school class of 112 students. She earned top honors in mathematics and received several other academic awards and scholarships, foretelling a successful future. Advanced education and a drive to continue learning would continue throughout her lifetime, a wonderful asset she successfully passed down to her children and grandchildren.
Returning to Winnebago shortly after high school, Nicky became reacquainted with Noah James Solomon, the man she had secretly hoped would one day be her husband, first noticing him in Winnebago at age 13. The couple was united in marriage on December 3, 1954, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Sioux City, with Dorothy Longmarsh and John Little wolf beside them. To their union 4 children were born – Nancy Jean, Neal Jay, Nolan James, and Nilah Jane; three daughters in loving spirit, Lauren Buchanan, Darlakae McGhee-Mahon, and Dorcee Kearnes; 14 grandchildren, Justin Blackbird, Jarrod Blackbird, Kristina Blackbird, Noah Solomon, Angelica Solomon; Trina (Solomon) Kearnes, Nicholasa Farmer; Mary (Kearnes) Walker, Bambi Kearnes, John-Emmett Mahon, Jakobe Mahon, Matt Cleveland, Mark Cleveland, and Noel Cleveland; one sister, Maxine Garner; great-grandson, Leyten (Ma-Chu-Pa) Kearnes and numerous other great-grandchildren, extended family members, and friends.
Nicky’s first job out of high school was as a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell, Sioux City. There was never a time when she sat idle - working for all she had. Even as a young girl in Winnebago, not yet a teen, she worked as a store clerk at Sam Riven’s dry goods store on main street. She was described as an ambitious, kind, and beautiful young girl by all who knew her back then. In 1966 she began her career in community health and eventually became the Community Health Representatives Director for the Winnebago Tribe, a program which she spent over seven years advocating for and developing prior its beginning.
With great passion and dedication to improving Native lives, Nicky successfully championed many causes and key projects, such as advocating for the funding and building of Winnebago's Blackhawk Community Center in the mid 1970's, and acquisition of the new Winnebago Treaty Hospital, dedicated in 2004, for which she spent over thirty years behind the scenes helping to make possible. The bulk of her career included endeavors for improved healthcare and ensuring adherence to treaty rights on behalf of her Ho-Chunk people and all Indian nations throughout the country. Nicky often reiterated that all forms of native healthcare are not “benefits” nor “gifts” to tribal nations; healthcare is a "treaty right" in fulfillment of a legally binding agreement made long ago, to be honored [forever], as stipulated, and as partial restitution for the devastating removal and displacement of tribal members from land once forcefully stolen.
In the mid-eighties, Nicky was named the first National Director of Community Health Representatives (CHR's). In that capacity she spent twelve successful years in Washington, DC, leading the development of an infrastructure to reorganize and better meet dire healthcare needs of tribal peoples throughout the United States. Once retired, her work on various public health and human services related boards continued, and her ability to voice her thoughts in outstanding ways never ceased. If asked what makes for good leadership, she would tell you, "Take all things to God." and "It's the heart, always the heart."
Those who had the honor of working closely with Nicky often described her as an astute and fearless leader with a huge heart of gold. She was known for her ability to walk into any size gathering of decision makers on a local, state, or national level, and speak from her heart with such clarity and wisdom that those present were drawn to her every word. Her inspiring thoughts and strong voice on behalf of undervalued populations will be widely remembered and forever missed. Nicky was indeed a champion advocate for people, yet very reserved about the numerous local, state, and national awards she received over the years. Every CHR Area Office throughout the nation had awarded her publically for her dedication and meritorious contributions by the time she retired in1985. She was grateful and humbled by each and every award she received; however, she was never one to brag about her accomplishments when there were many others to thank and still work to be done. As a woman who stood on moral principal, no meaningful cause was too big or small for Nicky to tackle. She loved all people, from every walk of life, praying often for the Nation of Israel with God’s chosen people, along with a long prayer list for causes and individuals dear to her. She held great respect for our military and police forces, and made it well known. In 2019 she was named the "Nebraska Veterans Support Person of the Year" by Veterans in Support of Liberation.
In both her personal and professional life, Nicky was a woman of integrity and conviction, standing strong against hypocrisy, mistreatment, and injustice toward any race or subgroup. She was a woman of tremendous faith and a longtime member of the Reformed Church in Winnebago, where her children were baptized. She served on the Winnebago Public School Board for several years. A generous woman with great compassion, she by far found greater joy in giving than receiving, and quietly supported many charities for police, military veterans, wounded servicemen, her church, Christian ministries, community fundraisers, and most of all, hurting individuals who needed a helping hand. She also gave of herself to others by volunteering on numerous local, state, and national boards. While in Washington DC, every Saturday she filled her car with sack lunches and drove them to a park to the give to the homeless. If not for her admiring husband of 50 years having shared this incredible kindness, no one would have ever heard about it.
Nicky loved watching sports, including all sports of the Winnebago Indians, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and her beloved Duke men’s basketball team. For well over 50 years she was a staple among Winnebago sports fans with her cowbell in tow. She attended every game she possibly could – ringing that cowbell, luluing and yelling out, “Good show Winnebago! . . . Good show!”
She was preceded in death by the love of her life, Noah J. Solomon; a daughter, Nancy J. Solomon-Blackbird; and her parents and grandparents.
As one of those special people whom most are lucky to find only once in a lifetime, Nicky will be greatly missed and forever remembered by too many friends, relatives, and former coworkers to count. She recently told one of her daughters, “I am ready to go now and I know my time is close. I have come to a point in my life where I fall to sleep praying I will wake up and find myself in heaven with Jesus. I never want any of you to worry about me or have any regrets. I have had a good life and I know where I am going.” Good show, Nicky! God Bless you for eternity. "Hallelujah!"
Condolences may be sent to PO Box 596, Winnebago, Nebraska, 68071