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Long-time Warm Springs tribal leader passes away

Warm Springs tribal leader Ken Smith
Long-time Warm Springs tribal leader Ken Smith

Ken Smith also served in the Reagan administration

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A long-time tribal leader on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation who also served in a top Interior Department position has died of natural causes, officials said.

Ken Smith, who died early Wednesday morning, served on the 10th Tribal Council for three years in the 1960s and was general manager for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs from 1971-1981, KWSO reported.

In 1981, President Reagan appointed Smith as assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs. He returned to Warm Springs in 1984 to again serve as the tribes' executive officer until his retirement in 1995.

Smith graduated from Madras Union High School in 1954 and was recognized in 2017 as a distinguished alumnus of the school. He earned his bachelor's of science degree at the University of Oregon.

Private services for the immediate family are planned, due to COVID-19 concerns. A celebration of life will be planned at a later date.

Central Oregon / Jefferson County / News / Top Stories

KTVZ news sources

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  1. Ken’s home was Warm Springs, but he also spent time in the community I serve in Portland OR. Ken was the nicest person I think I have met in my lifetime. He gave freely the warmest, most genuine smile and he will be greatly missed. He cared deeply for his Warm Springs tribe and community, and I know he will be missed by them. His community in Portland will miss him very much as well. I do already. Thank you Ken for your warm heart, gracious way and amazing smile. I will never forget you, my dear friend. “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” – Tuscarora

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