Tribute to a Dakota USMC Warrior
By Roy Cook

Time has passed since our fellow Warrior has gone on. Thursday night, six in the evening, the Chet Hunt Community Center is packed with seventy or more people that have come together to respectfully recognize the contribution he made on our San Diego tribal community. This formal dedication of the Chester Hunt Community Center in the Many Nations office complex, 3928 Illinois St., brings into focus the extent a person can inspire others to just be ourselves. Ron Christman is invited, by the family, to provide a blessing in his own language and to introduce a Tribal sense of ceremony to the dedication.

Ron recognized the Dancing Cloud Singers and joined with them to sing four songs in honor of the dedication. The gathering is visibly touched by the Soldier Boy song and all appreciated the crisp Northern Singing. Chet Hunt was a Dakota from North Dakota. In his youth he worked on the railroad and for relaxation participated in hockey. He is a gentle man who came from a tough place and knew tough times and still found the heart to reach out and help our Indian Veterans. He enjoyed participating in the social world of the Wachipi, pow wow to us from the Southern Plains. He danced Northern Traditional. He also enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the Gourd Dance Warriors tradition. He was an active member of the Golden State Gourd Society. He was proud to be a Marine Combat Veteran.

This evening his inspiration and leadership is most evident by the attendance of the American Indian Warriors Association. AIWA members respectful of his example wore their regalia in honor and tribute to the memory of this Charter member and officer of the organization. Current AIWA officers, George Redboy and Vic Mena are in attendance standing tall and looking good. AIWA treasurer and former active, now forever a Marine, Jerry Wilkerson said of Chet, "When he talked to me I felt six feet four and together we could do anything." He talked a lot of us into coming down to meet the veterans and joining in with his commitment. He was that kind of guy, no trickery, no guile, just an honest forthright manner that allowed one to recognize their own responsibility to our comrades in arms and be a part in making things better for the American Indian Veterans. It still sounds good to me.

Following the songs, Ron spoke to his friendship and the many layers of involvement with Chet over many years and several states, "I came to know him to always do more than what was asked of him, he was a rock." Ron then asked if any in the group would care to share how they came to know Chet. Many sincere and emotional episodes of just how Chet has made a difference in so many lives were voiced.

Chet was employed as a Recovery Specialist for the San Diego Indian Clinic for many years.
There are many recovery and talking circle programs active in rural areas of San Diego County and in the city. Chet was in close contact with many of these efforts throughout the state and he gave tirelessly of his abilities to bring those of us, who have stumbled or more, back to our feet with a sense of person and purpose. Many connected with those programs are here this night to recognize a friend and show their support to the family. It is so easy to criticize and so hard to be a part of the process to correct what everyone can see is wrong. Chet struggled to rise above the bickering that seems to preoccupy so much program organizational effort. He felt we can best apply our energy to following our individual Tribal ways in a respectful spiritual tradition that was so much a part of his later years focus and early Dakota training. Ron Morton, Former Director of the Clinic, spoke how he came to hire Chet by offering him tobacco in a traditional way and the impact Chet's association has made on his life. Humorous accounts reflecting on his Marine Corps training and tearful accounts of his being the only one who was there when someone needed to get the job done.
Hoo rah, Gunny!

In keeping with a tradition that is part of his Dakota heritage his wife, Carol Hunt, had prepared a meal to feed all there. Beef stew and fried bread for everyone together with a selection of potluck salads and cake or cookies to finish out the feed along with coffee or pop. The Family appreciates all who assisted in the event especially the associate members of AIWA who have been there all along to help thoughout these times. This dedication is not an event that we can linger at inside, maybe more can be done or differently but because Chet's work goes on we need to step outside. There is a recovery meeting this night in the Chester Hunt Community Center and I don't think he would have it any other way.