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'He Believed In Our Sovereignty, He Believed In Our People': Chief 'Chet' Brooks Of The Delaware Tribe Of Indians Walks On

Chief Chester "Chet" Brooks of the Delaware Tribe of Indians passed away on Sunday, Aug. 22 after a battle with cancer. Friends and colleagues of Brooks said he was a man dedicated to the Delaware people.

Brooks grew up in Bartlesville and had been Chief of the Delaware Tribe for nearly seven years. He was assistant principal chief prior to his leadership position and served on the tribal council for four years.

Chief Chester 'Chet'Brooks of the Delaware Tribe of Indians
Delaware Tribe of Indians / Facebook
Chief Chester 'Chet'Brooks of the Delaware Tribe of Indians in 2015.

Brooks was knowledgeable about Delaware history and worked to put land back into trust for the tribe to bolster economic development. Longtime friends, former Tribal Councilman and former Chief Justice of the Delaware Court Nathan Young III remembered him fondly.

"He truly was a humble, modest man who had the attitude that he was a servant of the people," said Young.

Brooks is survived by his younger brother Joe Brooks who remembered him as someone who probably knew every treaty the Delaware ever signed and was, "quite the reader."

Brooks' great-grandfather was Chief John Sarcoxie, who returned to the tribal nation in 1866 and signed a treaty with the United States formally recognizing the Delaware and giving them land in Oklahoma-which was then known as Indian Territory.

Brooks served with his brother on the tribal council and said there were times he voted against him, but that he never took it personally.

"He didn't let tribal politics get in the way of friendships," said Chet's brother.

Nathan Young III echoed Joe Brooks' feelings. He recalled a time when they were co-defendants in tribal court — a case in which they won.

"Afterwards, Chet treated these people as if they were his own family," said Young about the case where other tribal citizens were trying to get rid of them.

Chief Brooks considered himself, "Delaware to the core," according to many families and friends.

Memorial service for Brooks is set for September 11th at 5 p.m. on the north lawn of the Community Center Building at DE Tribal Headquarters in Bartlesville.

Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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