Rebel Music | Native America

Friday, November 27, 2009

Indian activist Angie Osborne dies

Published online on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009

By Cassidy Smith / The Fresno Bee E-Mail

A Choinumni tribal member who fought to preserve traditional burial ground in Piedra on the south bank of the Kings River east of Fresno will be buried there.

Angie "Yo-Wis-Nuth" Osborne started working toward land and recognition for her Choinumni tribe when she was 19. As an advocate for American Indian rights, she was well-known throughout California for helping and supporting others.

She died Nov. 19 at the age of 81.

In the 1940s, Fresno County took the burial grounds and all the land that now surrounds Pine Lake Dam. When the tribe was forbidden to bury anyone there, Mrs. Osborne began a quest to get the land back that didn't end until the 1970s.

"My mother, for a lifetime, had always been involved with all Native American rights," said Audrey Osborne, Mrs. Osborne's daughter. Audrey Osborne said her mother's involvement saved sacred sites and preserved languages, tradition and culture.

Angie 'Yo-Wis-Nuth' Osborne

Born: Jan. 9, 1928

Died: Nov. 19

Occupation: Retired health-care provider

Survivors: Mother, Emma Oliver; brother, Hank Oliver; sisters, Jean Sorondo, Irene Oliver and Virginia Castillo; sons Rick, Leonard and Robert Sr.; daughter Audrey; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren

Mrs. Osborne will be missed "by her own tribe along with others inside the state and out," Audrey Osborne said. "This is a huge loss to all tribes."

It was not unusual for Mrs. Osborne, the Choinumni tribe's spokeswoman, to attend various meetings throughout the city and beyond, fighting for what she believed in.

"She was a very dedicated and humble person when it came to politics," Audrey Osborne said. "She was straightforward and didn't pull any punches. People respected her."

In 2002, Mrs. Osborne's kindness and compassion brought a peaceful end to the controversy surrounding a celebrated tree destroyed by an unapologetic racist. Mrs. Osborne conducted an American Indian ceremony over the downed Piedra tree -- which was said to depict a likeness of the Virgin Mary and had drawn crowds of faithful Catholics.

One of Mrs. Osborne's most recent endeavors was to fight for the preservation of Jesse Morrow Mountain off of Highway 180. The mountain is a sacred site, according to the Choinumni tribe. The multinational Cemex mining company wants to mine rock from the mountain's south side for use as aggregate in construction projects.

Mrs. Osborne's children won't let their mother's dream of saving the mountain die.

"My brother and I and the tribal council promised to finish her work for her, and we will," Audrey Osborne said. "There's a lot at stake. We will continue the fight."

An avid reader, Mrs. Osborne was a lover of novels and history. She also greatly enjoyed weaving and basket and bead work, her daughter said.

A rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Sunday at Wallin's Funeral Home in Sanger. A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the Choinumni Sacred Burial grounds in Piedra.

The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6330.