Chickasaw Nation Ambassador to the United States, Charles W. Blackwell (’73) passed away Wednesday, January 2 in Washington D.C., at the age of 70. He was the first American Indian ambassador to the United States,1 and was known as a tireless advocate for tribal economic and educational development.
In 1974, Ambassador Blackwell joined the law school as an Assistant Dean and Adjunct Professor, and he served as Associate Director of the Special Scholarship Program in Law for American Indians in the American Indian Law Center until 1977. The Special Scholarship Program in Law for American Indians, now the Pre-Summer Law Institute, has helped hundreds of American Indians and Alaskan Natives gain entrance into law schools all over the United States.
Professor Emeritus Fred Hart was dean when Ambassador Blackwell attended law school and hired him shortly after he graduated. “Charles had many talents and was an outstanding assistant dean. But when I think of him, what I remember most is that he was truly a gentle man who was kind and considerate to all with whom he had contact.”
Professor Emeritus Ted Occhialino remembers Ambassador Blackwell as “the ideal Assistant Dean. He was put on earth to help others and it showed in his compassion for students, his ability to counsel them through tough times and his talent for magically finding a bit more scholarship money for students in a financial bind. He was also a dear friend to my wife and me. We, and those who knew him at the Law School, will miss him.”
Among his many accomplishments after leaving the law school, Ambassador Blackwell established the Native Affairs & Development Group, was appointed to the EPA Director’s National Clean Air Action Advisory Committee and was appointed by President Clinton in 1997 to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. In 1990, he was appointed as a delegate to the United States and was named Chickasaw Nation Ambassador in 1995.
A memorial service for Ambassador Blackwell will be held at the Law School on Sunday, February 24 from 2-4pm.
1 Indian Country Today Media Network.com, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/article/chickasaw-nation-ambassador-charles-blackwell-walks-146772.
January 28, 2013