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Lakota teacher Leader Charge dies

Lakota teacher Leader Charge dies

MISSION - The Lakota woman who translated the script for the Oscar-winning "Dances With Wolves" and appeared in the film has died at age 70.

Doris Leader Charge of Parmelee died Tuesday afternoon at Sinte Gleska University in Mission, where she was a long-time Lakota language teacher.

She portrayed Pretty Shield, wife of Ten Bears in "Dances With Wolves," which was filmed in western South Dakota in 1989. In addition to serving as a Lakota-language consultant and instructor for Kevin Costner's "Dances With Wolves," Leader Charge was Costner's special guest at the 1991 Academy Awards ceremonies. She went on stage to translate into Lakota part of screenwriter Michael Blake's acceptance speech for best screenplay. "Dances With Wolves" won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, that year.

"When I went up and picked up that Oscar for `Dances With Wolves,' I finally showed the world Indians are here and we're here to stay," she later said.

Leader Charge was born May 4, 1930, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She attended a boarding school and St. Mary's School for Girls in Springfield.

After raising her family, she taught at Sinte Gleska in the mid-1970s and also enrolled there, earning her elementary-education degree in 1984.

Among survivors is her husband, Fred Leader Charge of Parmelee. Funeral arrangements are pending with Sandoz's Chapel of the Pines in Valentine, Neb.

A colleague at the university, Lisa Little Chief Bryan, said Leader Charge was "highly respected as an elder and a cultural leader. She knew a lot about the Lakota culture."

Leader Charge's death will be a big loss for the Rosebud community, "especially with language. She was pretty much the expert for our language," Bryan said. "Everybody always turned to her for advice."

You may call West River Editor Steve Miller at 394-8417 or send e-mail to

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