Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Infobox Senator
name=Ben Nighthorse Campbell

jr/sr=United States Senator
party=Democratic 1982–1995 Republican 1995–present
term_start=January 3, 1993
term_end=January 3, 2005
preceded=Tim Wirth
succeeded=Ken Salazar
term_start2=January 3, 1987
term_end2=January 3, 1993
preceded2=Michael Strang
succeeded2=Scott McInnis
date of birth=Birth date and age|1933|4|13|mf=y
place of birth= Auburn, California
date of death=
place of death=
spouse=Linda Price
religion=Roman Catholic [ [ The religion of Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Senator from Colorado ] ]

Benjamin Nighthorse Campbell (born April 13, 1933) is an American politician. He was a U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1993 until 2005 and was for some time the only Native American serving in the U.S. Congress. Campbell was a three term U.S. Representative from 1987 to 1993, when he was sworn into office as a Senator following his election on November 3, 1992. He was only the 3rd Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate in history. Campbell also serves as one of forty-four members of the Council of Chiefs of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe.

Originally a member of the Democratic Party, Campbell switched to the Republican Party in 1995. Reelected in 1998, Campbell announced in March 2004 that he would not run for reelection to a third term in November of that year. He expressed interest in running for Governor of Colorado in 2006. However, on January 4, 2006, he announced that he would not enter the race. His Senate seat was won by Democrat Ken Salazar in the November 2004 election.

Early life, military service and family

Campbell was born in Auburn, California. His mother, Mary Vierra (Vieira), was a Portuguese immigrant who had come, legally with her mother, to the U.S. at age six through Ellis Island, (according to Campbell, his maternal grandfather had entered the United States illegally some time before.) [] There Vierra's family settled in the large Portuguese community near Sacramento. When Vierra contracted tuberculosis in her youth, she was forced to convalesce at a nearby hospital, often for months at a time during treatment. It was there that she met an American Indian patient Albert Campbell, who was at the hospital for alcoholism treatment. Albert Campbell was of predominantly Northern Cheyenne descent, but according to Nighthorse Campbell biographer, Herman Viola, Albert Campbell spent much of his youth in Crow Agency boarding school and may have had some Pueblo Indian and Apache Indian blood in his background as well. The couple married in 1929, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell was born in 1933.

During Campbell's childhood, his father continued to have problems with alcoholism, often leaving the family for weeks and months at a time. His mother continued to have health problems, with tuberculosis, a highly contagious disease that limited the contact she could have with her children and continued to force her into the hospital for long periods of time. These problems led to Ben and his older sister Alberta (who died an apparent suicide at age 44) spending much of their early lives in nearby Catholic orphanages.

Campbell attended Placer High School, dropping out in 1951 to join the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Korea during the Korean War as an air policeman; he left the Air Force in 1953 with the rank of Airman Second Class, as well as the Korean Service Medal and the Air Medal.

Campbell was married and divorced from Elaine Morgan before he married the former Linda Price, a grade school teacher who was a native of Colorado, in 1966. The couple has two children, Colin Campbell and Shanan Wells. They have four grandchildren.

Education and Olympic competition

Campbell obtained his GED while in the Air Force and after returning to the United States, Campbell used his GI Bill and work as a truck driver (he was and remains a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters) to attend San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), where he joined the Yosh Uchida coached judo team, a sport he first participated in as a teenager. He received a bachelor's degree in physical education and fine arts in 1957. Campbell later studied Japanese culture at Meiji University in Tokyo as a special research student from 1960 to 1964, where he trained with their world-renowned judo team in preparation for the Olympic Games. While in Japan, Campbell continued to return to the United States to compete in judo competitions, winning three U.S. national championships and a gold medal in 1963 Pan American Games judo competition.

Campbell was the captain of the U.S. Olympic Judo Team in the 1964 Summer Olympics, competing in the open weightclass. Campbell won his first round match, but seriously injured his knee during his second round match, leading to his loss in the medal round and ending his judo career. Campbell was chosen to carry the American flag during the closing ceremonies after swimmer Don Schollander was unable to attend. Campbell remained involved in judo as an instructor on the national and local levels, and wrote the judo training manual "Championship Judo Training Drills", published in 1974.

Professional and political career

In addition to coaching, after returning from the Olympics, Campbell worked as a Deputy Sheriff for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and also worked as a prison counselor for Native American inmates at Folsom Prison. He later got his teaching certificate and taught public school in California before moving to Colorado

Campbell learned the art of making Indian jewelry from his father, who taught him to flatten silver dollars on the railroad tracks for materials. Over the years he experimented with various styles and stones, including incorporating laminating techniques he learned from sword-makers in Japan, until he hit upon a unique style that won many state (California), national, and international awards. This led to a new career as a self-employed jewelry designer. His work was featured in many magazines, including a feature in the 1970s in "Arizona Highways". He also trained quarterhorses, including a national champion, "Sailor's Night". Ben and Linda moved to her native Colorado in 1977, where she continued to teach, while he continued his work as a jeweler, rancher, and horse trainer in his adopted hometown of Ignacio, Colorado. His jewelry has recently been displayed at the National Museum of the American Indian. In 1982, he ran, as a Democrat, and won a surprise victory against an incumbent for a seat in the Colorado General Assembly, where he served for four years (two terms). In November 1986, Campbell ran against another incumbent, Congressman Mike Strang, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served three terms. In 1992, U.S. Senator Tim Wirth announced his retirement, opening up a seat in the U.S. Senate. Campbell then defeated former three-term Governor Dick Lamm in a Democratic primary, before defeating GOP State Senator Terry Considine in the general election. In 1995, he became a Republican, in part due to disagreement with President Bill Clinton's fiscal policies and what he saw as a "War on the West" from environmentalists. In 1998, he faced his first re-election test as a Republican, and won by the largest margin (to that point) in state history. Shortly thereafter, a Colorado newspaper poll indicated that Campbell was the second most popular personality in the state next to Denver Bronco quarterback, John Elway. He retired from public office in 2004, and Ken Salazar was elected over beer magnate Pete Coors to replace him in the US Senate.

As a Republican, Campbell continued to be moderate on most issues. He supported abortion rights and gay rights, which was very unusual since most Colorado Republicans lean conservatively on social issues. As a rancher, he defended private property rights, multiple use of public lands and gun rights. He was also the first Native American in U.S. history to chair the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. As an American Indian and a former law enforcement officer, Campbell was noted for his work to assist these two groups during his time in office, including his work with Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) to establish the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and his work to establish the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum. According to research of the Congressional Record, in the 106th Congress, Campbell passed more public laws that any member of the U.S. Senate. Over his two senate terms, Campbell also passed more public laws than any previous U.S. Senator from Colorado.

In March 2006, Campbell was mentioned as a potential appointee as United States Secretary of the Interior, replacing Gale Norton. If appointed, Campbell would have been the first Native American to serve in the United States Cabinet, overseeing the agency that oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service. Despite support from many in Congress, Campbell's former senate colleague, Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne received the nomination.

Campbell was known for his bi-partisan political acumen, his western dress, his ponytail, and Harley Davidson motorcycle, not necessarily in that order. After leaving the Senate, Campbell, along with his chief of staff, Dave Devendorf, went to work for the law firm of Holland and Knight, LLP. Today, he lobbies on behalf of Indian tribes, municipalities, and corporations on a variety of issues. He also still actively crafts and markets his "Nighthorse" jewelry line.

In 2007, Campbell designed a jewelry piece, " [ The Creation Pendant] ", for the National Museum of the American Indian to sell for fundraising purposes.


*"A lot of senators are so worried about convention and how they look that they wouldn't let their hair down if they had any."
*"No longer will Native American culture be bottled up in collections and hidden from so many people in the world who wish to share them." — "Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the National Museum of the American Indian"
*"The recognition they're given now is richly deserved and long overdue." — "Referring to the Navajo Code Talkers who created and employed the famously unbreakable code used by the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II"

External links

* [ Congressional biography]
* [,1299,DRMN_261_3088124,00.html Games were bittersweet memory — "Rocky Mountain News" article]


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