Gordon Lee Copeland, (aka Walking Stick, Tall Bear, and Razor), passed from this life to be with his Lord and savior on Friday, April 27, 2018 at the age of 79. He was the eldest male in the Copeland family. He was born at the Klamath Indian Agencies 4 bed hospital on February 19, 1939. He was the son of former Klamath Tribal leader John H. Copeland, and Kathryn Marie Gordon, a member of the White Earth band of Chippewa Indians of Minnesota. Both of Gordon’s parents, as well as his brother, Charles, his sister, Sharon, and his son, Patrick, preceded him in death. Gordon leaves behind a sister, Catherine, a brother, Shannon, many nephews and nieces, two daughters, Christine and Karla, stepchildren, eight grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.
Gordon completed the 8th grade in Chiloquin, Oregon, which was in the High School building next to the gym. After moving to Silverton, Oregon, he was a member of the Silverton High School class of “58”. He attended one year at Mount Angel College, which was operated by the Sisters.
Although the Copeland family left the Klamath Reservation shortly after the Termination Act of 1954 as with-drawing members of the tribe; Gordon always returned to his former homeland every summer. It was a family tradition started by his father. Gordon loved the Klamath Marsh and the panorama of the mountains that surrounded it. Gordon always said, “Give me a few weeks camping and it will renew my spirit”.
After the Restoration Act of August 1986, the Copeland family continued to have their family reunion early summer, originally during the Memorial Day weekend at Copeland Springs. As keeper of the tee-pee, Gordon always had it up and ready for the children and grandchildren. In memory of his father, who passed away April 27, 1984, the family moved the reunion to Father’s Day. This tradition continues today. The family has always enjoyed the hunting, fishing, and gathering rights which were guaranteed by the treaty of 1864.
For several years , Gordon had tried to have his children enrolled, but was resisted due to the strict blood quantum adapted by the Tribe which required a minimum of ¼ Klamath, Modoc, or Yahooskin Snake Indian blood, which was representative of the Klamath Tribes.
Regretfully, with Gordon’s passing, his children and grandchildren will never have this privilege nor the opportunity to enjoy the same experiences that they have been accustomed to. With Gordon’s death, his heirs can no longer have the same privileges and amenities of eating fresh Spring deer meat, sun-dried jerky, fresh wild plums and a number of nature’s gifts available to enrolled members of the Tribe.
Gordon wasn’t perfect, he had his faults. For years he had his problems with alcohol and drugs; but to his credit, he remained sober and drug free for the past 31 years. In 1986 he completed a yearlong Alcohol and Drug Diversion Program, which was known as HASP. This program completely changed his life. His certificate of completion was Gordon’s pride and joy, he kept this certificate in a frame over his bed; he claimed that the initials stood for the Honorary Association of Special People.
His family, and especially his grandchildren, will miss their Grandpa very much. Our prayers will forever remember the father, brother, and grandpa who always did the best he could, making each one of us proud of our Native American heritage.
His simple request was to be cremated and to have his ashes sprinkled around the fire pit at Copeland Springs, the place that meant so very much to him.