Bernie Whitebear

Bernie Whitebear

Indian Activst
Born Sep 27, 1937

Bernie Whitebear, birth name Bernard Reyes, was an American Indian activist, a co-founder of the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB), the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Daybreak Star Cultural Center.

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Bernie Whitebear.


1937 Birth Born on September 27, 1937.
1939 1 Year Old His early childhood was spent largely on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington. His parents separated in 1939 and subsequently divorced; his mother would later marry Harry Wong, with whom she and Bernie's father had run a Chinese restaurant in 1935-1937, during the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.
1940 2 Years Old While his older brother Lawney Reyes and sister Luana Reyes went away to attend boarding school, Chemawa Indian School in 1940–1942, Bernard was too young to do so. … Read More


1955 17 Years Old For the rest of his childhood and youth, Reyes lived with his father, variously on the Colville Reservation and in Okanogan, Washington, where he graduated from high school in 1955. … Read More
1957 19 Years Old In September 1957 Reyes enlisted in the United States Army, where he served in the 101st Airborne Division as a Green Beret paratrooper. … Read More


1961 23 Years Old 1 More Event
In the summer of 1961, along with his various family members, Whitebear raised opposition to a federal government proposal to "terminate" the relationship of the federally recognized Colville Reservation. … Read More


1969 31 Years Old Whitebear left Boeing to help operate the clinic. In 1969 it established itself as a separate non-profit, the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB). … Read More
1977 39 Years Old …  His brother Lawney Reyes, a sculptor and designer — joined with architects Arai Jackson to design the facility, which opened in 1977. … Read More


1995 57 Years Old In the same era when Daybreak Star was being constructed, Whitebear served on the Seattle Arts Commission. In 1995, he was appointed to the board of the National Museum of the American Indian, and was involved in the planning for the new museum that opened September 21, 2004 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. … Read More


2000 63 Years Old Whitebear died of colon cancer, July 16, 2000. … Read More
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