The Indigenous Environmental Network is saddened to announce one of our co-founders Charles “Chaz” Tsyaktati Wheelock is making his final journey to be with his Oneida relatives who have gone before. Chaz was one of IEN’s founders in 1990 and was still working with us on our Save Our Roots: No GE Trees on Native Lands campaign; curriculum planning with our Indigenous Just Transition initiative; and networking on building constructive dialogue between labor and our frontline communities.
Chaz was a friend and relative to many in the Indigenous movement of deep thinkers, strategists, planners and organizers. Everyone who knew Chaz, loved him for all his sincerity, honesty, and thoughtful reflection on a universe full of ideas, and especially his questions. His insights, teachings, and challenges to address the long list of his ponderings-of-the-imponderables and will stay with us for generations. The absence of Chaz’s humor will undoubtedly leave a silence in our regular IEN calls and the reality of never sharing a meal with him where he offered his kind and sincere counsel, is something none of us were prepared for.
The impact of Chaz’s life and love for his people will continue to echo through this world with his work on the Iroquois Farms, a tribal organic agriculture venture, which established a management structure reflecting the Oneida worldview of cooperation and sharing – and which drew upon another model, the Mondragon cooperative in Spain. Throughout his career, Chaz was actively engaged and contributed his time and talents to many organizations that included the United South and Eastern Tribes, National Congress of American Indians, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, International Indian Treaty Council, Midwest Treaty Network, and the Rural Coalition.
We are forever grateful for the mark Chaz made on not just IEN but those of us who worked beside him. Prayers up for our brother and those he loved, until we meet again.
Condolences can be sent to:
Family of Chaz Wheelock
C/O: Oneida Nation
P.O. Box 71
Oneida, WI 54155