Walking On - Beryle LaRose Contreras

05.23.2017 Dean Rhodes Walking On

Beryle LaRose Contreras

July 29, 1935 – May 19, 2017

Tribal Elder Beryle LaRose Contreras, 81, made her journey to the spirit world on May 19, 2017. She was born on July 29, 1935.

Beryle was preceded in death by her parents, Roy Norman and Delia LaRose Langley; nephew, Kelly Langley; nieces, Ellisine Langley and Jacklyn Langley; daughter, Kateri Contreras Atanacio; and her husband of 20 years, Angel Contreras.

Beryle is survived by her aunt, June LaRose of Portland, Ore.; brothers, Jack (Linda) Langley of Warm Springs, Ore., and Leonard (Rose) Langley of Tillamook, Ore.; and her children, Kerma Contreras of San Francisco, Calif., Denise Lamkin of Beaverton, Ore., Christine Contreras of Grand Ronde, Ore., Kevin Contreras of Sheridan, Ore., Kalene Contreras of Somes Bar, Calif., and Kimberly (BT) Brien of Grand Ronde; and 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, as well as a number of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Beryle was born in Fort Duchesne, Utah. When she was 5, her family moved to Grand Ronde, Ore. After the federal government terminated the Tribe, her family moved to Tillamook. In 1955, Beryle moved to San Francisco on the Relocation Act to attend beauty school where she became a beautician. Beryle met Angel Contreras and they married.

In San Francisco during the 1960s and ’70s at the end of the Civil Rights era, Beryle was very active in Native American rights. In 1969, the occupation of Alcatraz Island had a huge influence on the lives of Beryle and her family. This is where she met friends Wilma Mankiller, Richard and Annie Oakes, John Trudell, Dennis Banks and many others.

Beryle attended San Francisco State University where she studied Native American Studies.

Beryle worked at the American Indian Center and ran the youth group. She was active in the American Indian Movement and participated in starting the AIM School in Oakland, Calif. She did not hesitate to help other Tribes in need. She took donations to Pit River, Nev., and Wounded Knee, S.D., during their struggles.

In 1977, Beryle moved back to Oregon where she continued her involvement with Native communities and was very excited when Grand Ronde was about to be restored in 1983. She was a proud member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde from her father’s side of the family and Shoshone/Bannock/Northern Ute from her mother’s side of the family.

She worked hard all of her life, later managing a house for mentally ill adults. When her father, Roy, became unable to care for himself, Beryle took care of her father.

Beryle loved to dance, cook, sew, play Yahtzee, read, write poems, cats and dogs, and listen to music.

She has always been a strong, independent woman. She taught her children and others to be proud of who you are and where you came from, and to always fight for your rights.

She also always said and I quote: “If you don’t kick their ass, I’m going to kick yours.”

Our mother always did the best she could. May she rest in peace! Love from her family.