Long-time activist fathered Native media
R John Hayes , Windspeaker Staff Writer
Eugene Steinhauer, who was a pioneer Native broadcaster and an early catalyst for Native advocacy, died of a heart attack in hospital in St. Paul, Alta., on Sept. 12. He was 67.
He died after suffering from bad health for more than two years, which had recently curtailed his active schedule. He had been working as a consultant for the Alberta Indian Association.
Born in St. Paul, Steinhauer came to prominence during the 1960s. At that time, he saw First Nations in Alberta working in isolation and largely unaware of each other's activities. With financial support from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he began to build a network through which original information from each reserve could be coordinated for the benefit of all. His work led to the first Native radio broadcasts, as Steinhauer toured the communities and recorded Elders, leaders and others for a 15-minute regular show.
He was forced by need to enter politics.
"He seemed to be the only one willing to get up in public, but he was still very reticent," said long-time friend and associate Rev. Noweta Morie ("Wapahoo"). "He was a very shy man."
He visited the United Nations in 1965, and went on to be chief of the Saddle Lake First Nation for seven years, and president of the Indian Association of Alberta for two. He led a delegation to England during the constitutional debates, and was a central figure in the drive to get the rights of Indigenous peoples entrenched in the Canadian constitution, as they were in the British North America Act.
A militant in his time, Steinhauer warned many years ago of the rising frustrations within the Native community with the slow process on land claims and other issues. He predicted young Native people and civil authorities would be inevitable if governments did not negotiate openly, fairly and quickly. He was a medicine man who will be remembered as one who helped his people. He owned a sweat lodge, which will be passed on to his sons. Steinhauer leaves his wife, Alice, and his children Judy, Leon, Gary, Joseph and Michelle.