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Keith Hamilton Basso

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Keith Hamilton Basso Obituary
Basso, Keith Hamilton
73, of Heber AZ., departed this world on August 4, 2013 after a very sudden illness. Dr. Basso was born in Asheville, N. C. and spent his early years in Weston, CT. It was here that he began a lifelong appreciation of both mules and the written word. He graduated from Harvard University 1960, cum laude. It was during the summer of his junior year, 1959, that Keith first went to the White Mountain Apache community of Cibecue. He spent that summer under the eye of his great friend and mentor Dick Cooley while learning the basics of the Western Apache language and the skills of a working cowboy. In his heart and soul, he never left Cibecue from that time forward. Dr. Basso completed his PhD in Linguistic Anthropology at Stanford University. He was then Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Yale University, New Haven, CT. and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque from 1989 until his retirement in 2006. Keith pursued his interest in the Western Apache language and culture throughout his life and many of his deepest friendships were with Cibecue individuals. These relationships were precious to him and he was honored to try to portray Apache people and their world views in his writings. Their sense of humor and fun, especially when at his own expense, delighted him. Keith took the craft of writing very seriously and received many awards for his efforts over the years. Keith's numerous books and articles include The Cibecue Apache, Portraits of The Whiteman, Wisdom Sits in Places, and his last book which was co-authored with Eva Watt, Don't Let The Sun Step Over You. Throughout his life, Keith was an active participant in and Board Member of several Native American civil rights organizations, including The Association of American Indian Affairs, The National Museum of the American Indian - Smithsonian Institution, and the Western Apache NAGPRA Working Group. He also served as "expert consultant - witness" for various legal cases involving the rights of Native people and their governments. Since the mid 1980's, Keith has made his primary home outside of Heber with his wife Gayle. Together they have had the fun of sharing many challenges and wonderful friends. And also the company of a splendid mule from Cibecue, known as Margie. For the past 20 years, Keith has explored the art and techniques of rawhide braided horse gear which he first encountered long ago among the Cibecue cowboys. His braided pieces have been exhibited throughout the U.S. West and are sought out by collectors. Keith was predeceased by his parents Hamilton Basso (a writer) and Etolia Simmons Basso (a teacher). He is survived by his wife Gayle, many cousins and in-laws, a host of "almost relatives" on the Fort Apache Reservation and many dear friends around the world. Keith was a gentleman and a gentle man. He will be mourned and
most deeply missed by all. Being a modest man who disliked any fuss, he requested no public funeral. In his memory, he and his family request donations to be sent to Cibecue Community School Language Program, PO Box 80068, Cibecue, AZ. 85911

Published in The Arizona Republic on Aug. 11, 2013
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