May 31, 2006



Needles Desert Star

Beloved and respected long-time Mojave leader, Llewellyn Barrackman passed away on May 21, 2006, in Bullhead City, Ariz. Mr. Barrackman was nationally recognized as a force in American Indian politics and local economic development. Llewellyn was born in Needles, Calif., on July 4, 1918, to Roger Barrackman and Mabel Kempton.

After losing his mother as a young boy, he was raised by his grandmother until he was captured and forcibly sent to the Fort Mojave Boarding School in 1927. When the school closed in 1930 he transferred to Phoenix Indian School, where he graduated in 1938. Given his military training from boarding school, he readily enlisted in the U. S. Army during WWII. He served in the Engineering Corps, which built the Trans-Alaska Highway. In 1944, he married his sweetheart Betty Vanderbilt, who he remained married to for 62 years.

After the war he worked at Sierra Ordinance Depot in Herlong, Calif., until 1958 when he brought his young family back to Needles. In those years he volunteered his time and automobile to the Tribal Council and earned the lasting trust of the senior Mojave leadership. His energy and love for the community was fulfilled through is involvement in coaching local sports teams and playing the trombone in the Fort Mojave Band. Also, Llewellyn and Betty served as foster parents to many orphaned and abandoned Mojave children.

In 1962, he was elected to the Fort Mojave Tribal Council, where he served his people for over 40 years. In 1965, Mr. Barrackman became chairman and set in motion a bold and unique economic development plan that resulted in the enormous economic success of the tribe today. Under his leadership fort Mojave developed an irrigation system for agriculture, planned and implemented numerous economic enterprises, and built its own casino and gambling industry. Mr. Barrackman constructed new housing for tribal members, created numerous employment opportunities, and instituted a per capita profit sharing for each member of the tribe. In his later years, Llewellyn served as vice-chairman until his retirement in 2004.

Throughout his political career Llewellyn served on numerous national, state, and private boards and commissions, including the Nevada Gaming Commission.

During his lifetime, Mr. Barrackman and his wife Betty preserved and promoted both Mojave language and culture. His motto "Time doesn't wait for anyone," led to great success in teaching younger tribal members. His direct involvement in traditional affairs created a Mojave cultural renaissance.

Llewellyn shared his immense knowledge with many and ensured that Mojave culture and history will not be forgotten. Llewellyn and Betty's efforts were recognized by the Smithsonian Institution in 1993 and the Mashantuckett Pequot Museum in 1996.

In later years, Llewellyn was consulted and recognized by world-renowned linguists and anthropologists.

Mr. Barrackman's greatest pride was in the Fort Mojave Band, which remains a vital part of the community due in large part to his efforts. Llewellyn recently organized the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the band and its illustrious history.

The entire tribe as well as the Laughlin-Bullhead area benefit today from the strong and thoughtful leadership of this legendary man. Llewellyn Barrackman is remembered for his powerful presence, eloquence, quiet dignity, generosity and humility.

Llewellyn is survived by his loving wife, Betty; daughters, Barbara Barrackman and Iris Scerato; son, Joe Scerato; granddaughter, Melanie Otero; and great-grandsons Keenan Jenkins and Joaquin Otero. He is also survived by his aunt, Faith Wilson; and his brother, Lionel Barrackman.

Fort Mojave Indian Tribal traditional services were held on May 24 at the Fort Mojave Tribal Mourning Hall. Fort Mojave traditional rites were held May 25 at the Fort Mojave Indian Cemetery.

Arrangements were handled by Dimond & Sons Needles Mortuary.