DEADWOOD | Fans of actor Kevin Costner and Chief David Bald Eagle will have the opportunity to buy nearly two dozen personalized items this week, including the “Dances With Wolves” star’s childhood baseball and bat, movie memorabilia and a buckskin shirt worn and signed by the “Chief of Chiefs.”
Costner and Bald Eagle donated 20 items for the Saturday, Sept. 21, charity auction to support Phillip Red Bird Frame, a Lakota interpreter who has shared his tribal culture and legends this summer with thousands of visitors to Costner’s attraction, Tatanka: Story of the Bison.
Proceeds will assist Frame, who was born and raised on the Cheyenne River Reservation, in returning to college where he hopes to earn a degree in sociology.
“I want to finish what I started,” Frame said last week. “I didn’t know I liked being with people so much. This summer I’ve had the opportunity to visit with so many remarkable people and I want them to be inspired.”
Frame said he was surprised that a world-famous actor, director and producer and the First Chief of the United Indigenous Nations would take the time to personalize a score of items that might him help achieve his goal of earning a college degree.
“I am humbled but that’s too small of a word,” the soft-spoken 47-year-old interpreter said while standing in the shadow of a teepee at Tatanka. “I am obviously appreciative that I am getting this chance to help other people through Mr. Costner and Chief Bald Eagle.”
Frame, who attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater off and on for seven years, as well as Black Hills States University in 2003, said he believes he could finish his degree at BHSU in less than a year.
“I am so close,” he said. “A degree would help me open more doors and allow me to help more people.”
Rick Olesen, who owns Lead’s Dakota Plains Auctions with his wife, Margi, said he once sold John Wayne’s cowboy hat and his gold and jade golf putter, but he had never had the opportunity to auction so many items from one celebrity.
“Kevin Costner’s mom and dad donated his bat along with his baseball from when he was a kid,” Olesen said. “How cool is that?”
Olesen said interested individuals may preview the full slate of items in the auction today through Thursday at the Deadwood Old West Trading Post, 619 Main St. The live auction will start at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at Dakota Plains Auctions, 809 W. Main St., in Lead. Online bids will be accepted through dakotaplainsauctions.com and icollector.com, he said.
“It’s a nice varied offering of Native American items, baseball memorabilia, an Arnold Palmer signed golf cap and some great unusual things,” Olesen said.
Articles from David Bald Eagle, traditional chief of the Minnicoujou Tribe, who was born in a teepee in 1919, include a signed copy of the 1935 swashbuckling film “Captain Blood” in which Bald Eagle appeared as Errol Flynn’s sword-wielding bodyguard, and a buckskin shirt he wore and signed on the right shoulder.
Other items in the auction include baseball jackets from several of Costner’s films, including “Bull Durham,” Olesen said.
“What makes this a unique auction is that it’s for a good cause,” he said. “I think it’s an honorable and noble thing to do. So many people have come together to make this happen. Everybody has a fair shake at obtaining some unique Hollywood memorabilia.”
Frame and Olesen credited Tatanka General Manager Stephen Laffey for acquiring the items and getting Costner and Bald Eagle together to help support Frame’s college fund.
Contacted last week, Laffey tried to minimize his role in the entire effort.
“Never take more from a tin than you put in it,” Laffey said when asked why he had spent weeks acquiring the items, shipping them to Costner for signatures and arranging the auction. “This is going to get Phillip to where he wants to go. It’s always good to help someone, because it always is returned.”
Laffey thanked Bill and Sharon Costner for donating many articles in the auction and said that Frame was his inspiration.
“Phillip is just one of a kind,” the native Australian said. “He approached me for a job. He is so pleasant and so approachable, so I gave him the job and I never looked back.
“It’s all going to a really good cause,” Laffey added. “All proceeds are going to a gentleman from South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation who is making a difference, bridging cultural divides, telling the story of his people and making residents the world over understand that we’re all in this together.”