A direct descendant of Chief Heckaton “Dry Man,” who led the Tribe in 1818. John joined the Business Committee as a member in 1999, and he has served as Chairman since 2001.
John Lane Berrey Quapaw/Osage
Childhood Quapaw name: Hum-Bah-Gah-Kah “Big Elk”
Osage adult name Neè-Wah “Healing Waters”
Born: August 31, 1958, in Denver, Colorado
Mother: Janet Long Berrey (non-native Irish and German)
Father: Joseph Lane Berrey (my native ancestry comes through my Dad)
Indian Name Wah-Shin-Zeehee “Scares the Birds”
Grandmother on father’s side: Bessie Lane Berrey original Osage allottee
Great Grand Parents: Joseph Lane Quapaw/Osage Rozella Lane “Zah-Meh” Quapaw/Osage original Quapaw allottee
Great-great Grandfather George Lane “Hereditary Chief of George Lane of the Quapaw” Direct descendant of Chief Heckaton “Dry Man” Quapaw Chief in 1818
Sisters: Ellen, Janet, Mary Jo, Kayte, and Carol
Graduated from Los Amigos High School in Santa Anna, California 1976
Graduated from The University of Arkansas 1991 Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the Lemke School of Journalism
I was first interested in being part of the Quapaw Tribal Business Committee in 1999. I have always celebrated my Native heritage. Grandma Supernaw, who at the time when I was very young, held the right within the Quapaw Tribe to give me my Quapaw name. She was also my grandmother’s cousin. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents but I was very blessed to be taught much of our Indian ways by my grandmother Bessie Lane Berrey and her cousin and best friend aunt Mary Lane Redeagle. I have been a member of the “West Moon” Lottie Shunkamola Native American Church (NAC) located in Hominy, Okla., and the Catholic Church. The form of NAC that I practice was first brought to the Quapaw in the late 1800s. It was brought to us by the prophet John Wilson Moon Head, who was Caddo, and this was part of a powerful movement among Osages and Quapaw and has been very active in Osage lands and more recently being revived in Quapaw.
My efforts to begin a path to the Business Committee were motivated by my relative and dear aunt Ardina Moore, Quapaw/Osage elder and granddaughter to Chief Victor Griffin.
Uncle Victor was a faithful leader of our form of the NAC. Witsimi (Aunt) Ardina one day called me when I was living with my first wife and two children Lane and Jack on my Grandma Bessie’s allotment in Osage County west of Sperry, Okla., where I have a cattle and hay farm. Witsimi Ardina asked me to come to Miami to visit with her. When I made the trip up the turnpike I had no idea what Ardina had in mind. She is my greatest supporter and grew up very close to her cousin, my dad. When I arrived and after hugs and some old stories of family, my Witsimi asked me “to run for Quapaw Business Committee. Although I was very interested in our cultural ways I had never considered myself to be a good candidate. In our cultural ways when an elder, and more especially a relative and elder, ask you to do something you really don’t have a choice. So I began my adventure to the best job I could have ever imagined.
My first position in the QTBC was as a member and I filled a vacated spot in 1999. After that, I ran for my current position as Chairman and was sworn in, in 2001. We started with tremendous anxiety and a Tribe that had been in dire financial decline for many years. Starting with my first term, I worked with the BC members to achieve our first clean audit of all our program money. As a team, we all worked together to change the lives of the Quapaw people, and create a profoundly new approach focused on our people and the environment and community we live in.
We began to fight for our sovereign rights and trust-related claims against the United States and the Trust Responsibility the U.S. government had based on legislation and case law. My approach, and the approach of all but a few members of the QTBC, has always been about our mission. We have been transparent, and we truly love each other. The successes of the Quapaw could never happen without continuity and our mission, and we are all resolved to those simple principles.