The Legacy of Verna Clay
Within the Native American culture, genuine greatness is seen in the way people treat each other. For more than 20 years, the Indian people of the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Ore., experienced that kind of love and dedication Verna Clay had for them. It was with her little acts of kindness that she won the hearts of the entire nation.
She would take Christmas gifts to families who couldn’t provide much for their children. In her own home, she would take care of the children of native mothers who were hospitalized, and she took food to those whose cupboards were bare. The Indian people, whom she dearly loved, never forgot these acts of kindness.
When Verna died Sept. 22 it was only natural that she would be honored and her life be celebrated by the Umatilla people in an official Long House ceremony. More than 500 people gathered for the occasion. Many paid tribute to this Christian woman and told how she had blessed their lives. Even the reverence of the drumming used during the ceremony was designed to show respect for the personal legacy she left.