Loretta “Chet” Joyce Halfmoon was born April 22, 1933, to Pete “Fox” McCormack and Mary Sarah (Ellenwood) McCormack in Spalding. She attended elementary in Lapwai and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1951. Loretta graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1975 from Lewis-Clark State College. She was a traditional dancer, basket weaver and gatherer. She learned to played both alto saxophone and the piano.
Her early years in the work force included tutor and teacher aide for the Lapwai School District. She provided tutorial assistance in math and remedial reading to “underachievers” in both elementary and secondary schools. She also assisted with coaching of girl’s physical education.
Loretta Greene started work at Washington State University in 1974 and retired in 1979. She started as the educational advisor for the Native American Program, which included being the recruiter for admissions. Chet exceeded her record every year as a recruiter in the number of new Native American students to WSU. She helped raise money for and started the first WSU Pa-loots-Pu (the Place of the Palouse) pow-wow in 1975. The Ku-au-mah (Cougar) Alumni Society was started under Chet’s guidance in 1975. She contacted every student graduate’s tribe to send them a Pendleton blanket and they received them at the Graduate Honor Dance during the WSU pow-wows every year after the first one. She took her job very seriously and made sure each student was given every assistance and opportunity to make sure they graduated. The rate of student graduation escalated to a high rate under her guidance. She retired as Loretta Chet Halfmoon.
She continued her employment as Program Director for Cay-Uma-Wa Pre-School for Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation in Pendleton, Ore. She moved back to Lapwai and worked for the Nez Perce Tribe in various capacities. Chet’s first position was Alcohol Education Coordinator, then Director of Head Start and finally Senior Program Director.
Loretta married Jesse Greene and they had seven children. They later divorced in 1974. While married to Jesse, they fished on the Columbia River. Her first experience was at Celilo Falls, Ore. Along the Columbia River, many knew her as outspoken and candid about treaty fishing since 1953 along the main stem, fishing commercially with her family and providing stability to the protection and maintenance of tribal treaty rights for the Nez Perce Tribe and all members who exercise such rights.
Chet valued the treaty right to fish as one of the female woman warriors whose lifetime achievement were celebrated in 2014. She was recognized as “Indigenous Women of the Columbia River.” This celebrated three well-known females (Loretta, Shirley Iman and Mary Settler) for fishing on the Columbia River main stem known, as usual and accustomed places for the Nez Perce Tribe. All three women had dedicated their financial resources, invested in homes and were jailed repeatedly. They were honored for their active defense of Treaty Rights to fish in “usual and accustomed” areas and their tenacity to never give up. She continued to help maintain the fishing site “Preacher’s Eddy” with her own resources and has two homes which her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, utilized during the fishing seasons. Loretta was also recognized by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for her dedication to Treaty Fishing on the Columbia River.
She met the love of her life, Ronald Halfmoon, while working at WSU. They married April 2, 1977, at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Pendleton. They were approaching 44 years together. Throughout their marriage they had lived in Lapwai, Thorn Hollow, Pendleton, Spokane, Rufus, Ore. and Pullman. They shared their faith as devote Catholics which took them to travel nationwide to Kateri conferences, New York being the most memorable. This trip included their daughters and granddaughter. Prior to the conference, they enjoyed sightseeing around Times Square, carriage rides through Central Park, and visiting the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty. They enjoyed years traveling to basketball tournaments, family gatherings, elders’ national conferences, and NCAI and NEIA conferences. A highlight was the Rose Bowl Game when WSU made the bowl. They also enjoyed several trips to Hawaii over the years.
Loretta’s early membership with professional, civic and community organizations included the North American Indian Women’s Association, National Indian Education Association, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Nez Perce Nation Athletic Association, Museum of Native American Cultures, Spokane Urban Indian Ministry, Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee and Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council. Lastly, she served on the State of Idaho Transportation Committee, Nez Perce Tribe’s Utility Board and Circle of Elders.
In 2013, Loretta received the Lewis-Clark State Collage Lifetime Achievement Award. She was recognized for her dedication, strong influence, years of professional work ethic and personal accounts of fishing on the Columbia River. She was a continuous role model for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She is survived by her husband, Ronald Halfmoon; children, Ethel Greene, Scherri Greene of Lapwai, Kerma (Charles Petras) Greene of Garfield; nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; sons, Jeffery Brian Greene and Michael Dana Greene; daughters, Barbara Deane Greene and Mary Lee Greene; siblings, Robert “Hood,” McCormack, Mickey McCormack and Joseph “Esky” McCormack; sisters, Veronica “Mae” McCormack Taylor, Vera Ann McCormack Tuell and Shirley “Shell” McCormack.
A rosary and memorial services are set for 6 p.m. Monday, March 22. Viewing at this time only. Catholic services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 23. No viewing and no burial. All services will be held at the Pi-Nee-Waus Community Center, 504 Main St. S., Lapwai.
Arrangements have been entrusted with Vassar-Rawls Funeral Home. Meal prepared by the Arthur Family. All Idaho COVID-19 protocols will be followed. Social distancing and masks required, no exceptions. Sanitizer and masks will be provided at the door.
Published on behalf of the Halfmoon family.