Former Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Anthony “Tony” Rivers Jr. passed away on October 28 at Fort Meade Veterans Hospital. Rivers served as chairman from 1958-1962, and served as District 6 Council Representative for the Four Bear District from 1966-1968.
He was also a World War II veteran of the United States Army.
According to the Congressional Record published in 1973, which is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, Rivers was “born in a log cabin of a Sioux mother and partly Indian father (Grandfather Rivet was a Frenchman; the name was later altered to “Rivers”), Tony grew up on the prairie, daily rode a horse 5 miles to the Moreau River, boated across then hiked another mile to school. In 1940, after high school and 3 years of business college accounting, he joined the Army, fought in north African and Italy, was injured (noncombat) and sent home. Honorably discharged as a sergeant, he married an attractive girl from Mississippi named Ruth.
In 1945, Tony Rivers went to work as an apprentice accountant with the Navy Department in Washing ton. Scheduled for promotion to supervisor, he quit the Government job, and with only a saddle and refund from his income tax, the Rivers went back to the reservation. They received 50 head of cattle from the tribe, borrowed enough to lease nearly 5,000 acres 3 miles from his father’s ranch.
“I sincerely hated the place at first,” recalls Ruth. “Now I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.”
Later, after a year and half as office manager within the tribe’s rehabilitation program, Tony decided to run for tribal chairman – top Indian-elected post on the reservation.
Along with six other candidates he began combing back hill country. He drove thousands of miles in his jeep, talked to any that would listen—and some that wouldn’t. “He was never home,” remembers his wife.
The job of tribal chairman pays $340 a month, is usually a daylong series of meetings, telephone calls, complains and personal visits. It is a thankless job, but Rivers has turned down several $600-a-month positions to stay on. Tony, Ruth, and their 12-year old daughter, Linda Lou, have now moved to Eagle Butte, but still get out to their ranch on weekends.”
In April 2005, for all his contributions to the Tribe, then-Chairman Harold Frazier issued an executive proclamation declaring April 18, 2005 as Anthony A. Rivers Jr. Day.
On October 29, Chairman Frazier ordered all flags on Cheyenne River be flown at half-mast beginning October 30-November 4 in recognition of Rivers.
Services will be held on 10:30 AM, MT, Monday, November 4, 2019 at All Saints Catholic Church in Eagle Butte.