Gabriel Allen Medicine Eagle, Sr. was born on March 18, 1951 in Rosebud, South Dakota to George and Matilda (Eagle Dog) Medicine Eagle.
He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Matthew and Addie (White Lark) Eagle Dog, and attended school in Ideal, SD up until the eighth grade. He went to the Rosebud Boarding School and attended Todd County High School in Mission.
For a period of time he was sent off to live with his Uncle Noah Grass Rope to learn the ways of a medicine man as the family expected him be a spiritual leader for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. During the final years of the Vietnam War, Gabe enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman (medic) and then became a torpedo man on the USS Fort Knox, a destroyer escort. He was stationed in San Diego and Pearl Harbor.
He married Viola Old Lodge on March 1972 in Ideal.
After a tubular miscarriage, the doctor said Vi would not be able to have children which proved true. However, near the very end of her life she had a medical procedure and learned that her tubes were tied years earlier against her knowledge or wishes.
Such stories of forced sterilization are unfortunately common to native people. In 1977, Gabe’s sister Leah gave birth to a little boy. Gabe and Vi adopted this little boy, named him Gabe Jr. and raised him as their own. He remains their only child.
After being discharged from the Navy, Gabe Sr. enrolled in Springfield Vo-Tech and then Mitchell Vo-Tech and became a certified mechanic. They lived in Ideal, South Dakota.
For several years he struggled through the difficulty of employers not wanting to hire natives but eventually was hired at Westside Tire in Winner. He then worked at Harry K Ford in Winner as their only Ford Master Technician for seventeen years.
In 1984 at the wake for his mother in law, Ruth, a visiting Christian Pastor Ed and Darlene Schupan introduced Viola to the Jesus and she became a Christian confessing Jesus as her Savior and Lord.
The Schupans held Bible studies in Gabe and Vi’s two-room green house in Ideal, often long into the night. Initially Gabe scoffed and drank beer and blew his cigarette smoke in Rev. Schupan’s direction. He always laughed when telling that part of his testimony. However, he came to discover Jesus wasn’t a white man, nor was Christianity a white man’s religion. He was able to separate the treatment of natives by the so-called Christian/Catholic Church, from the person of Jesus. Gabe discovered Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and the only name under heaven given unto men by which we can be saved.
He made the decision one night to give his life to Jesus and follow him. He poured out his beer and threw his cigarettes in the trash and never touched either again the rest of his life. As Pastor Schupan was a Navy Seal, and as Gabe was a Navy man, they soon hit it off and Gabe was discipled by his pastor friend.
As their home Bible study grew, they also grew spiritually and soon Gabe and Vi started a church, Shekinah Glory Chapel in Ideal, SD under the covering of the Pentecostal Church of God.
For over twenty-five years, God used them mightily on the reservation, nationally and to several foreign countries to do God’s work. His passion and love for the youth was evident as he and Vi hosted an annual camp meeting at Ghost Hawk Park in Rosebud for nearly three decades.
He also served as the chairman of the Rosebud Boarding School for six years.
Early on, Gabe and Vi led Bible studies each night of the week in the various Rosebud communities, Friday night services in the council chambers, revival services in community halls in Winner, Mission and Parmelee.
They hosted annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners in Winner that fed over 300-500 people at each meal. Gabe was a keynote speaker at the men’s Promise Keepers Conferences in Rapid City, SD and in Casper, WY. He became covenant brothers with several white ministers and they traveled to spread the message of reconciliation between God and man, and between red and white peoples.
They led many strategic reconciliation events and prayer summits throughout South Dakota and nationally, from Plymouth Rock all the way west. They sought to be “repairers of the breech.”
In 2004, he and Vi and other national Christian Native leaders worked with Sen. Sam Brownback to bring the resolution to Congress containing the apology to Native people which was signed in 2010 by President Obama. The resolution referenced past injustices, breaking of treaties, the years of depredations and of the wrongdoings by the US government against Native peoples.
When speaking with his nieces and nephews they can share many wonderful memories of how they traveled with them across Indian country to other camp meetings, youth activities and always made holidays special for the kids.
He loved fishing and hunting with his son Gabe Jr, his grandkids and friends. He was an amazing dad, uncle and papa and faithful husband to Viola for 39 years. She died Jan. 6, 2011.
After the passing of his beloved wife Vi, God’s work continued to take him to many different places, and he operated in all the fivefold ministries. His season alone was short-lived as God led him to Colleen Fisher.
They were married in September of 2013. Gabe and Colleen traveled to Washington DC for the All Tribes DC National Native Day of Prayer in 2016 and 2017.
In June of 2019, Gabe and Colleen were invited to tour the nine reservations in South Dakota where they spent time in communities praying and serving the people. His work was at an international, national and statewide level. His love for the Sicangu Nation was abundant as he loved to serve the people at a local level too.
He was also a community chairman and was elected to the Rosebud Tribal Council. He served on the Board of Regents at Sinte Gleska University at the time of his passing.
Precious to Colleen was his laugh and joyful spirit and all the time they spent together in ministry and traveling. During these last few years of his life, he attended and supported the White Horse Ministries in Mission, SD and the Keystone Ministry in Keystone, SD.
He developed heart problems and needed various procedures and yet he remained quite mobile to the very end. Pastors JR and Mema Boyd and Pastor Steve Hickey will be officiating the memorial and life celebration services and remembering him as Gabe the Good-Hearted.
He was an invited VIP guest at President Trump’s July 3rd visit to Mt. Rushmore and Gabe had a heart attack there at Mt Rushmore shortly after the fireworks.
Only a few hours earlier he said on Facebook live, “This is kind of a historical moment for native people. As far as even personally, for me, things I get to see before I go into the next world. When I get to the next world, I’ll have some stories to tell.”
Gabe’s life was celebrated in an Honor Service on Monday at 1 pm , July 13 at Bethel Church in Rapid City; at a vigil service which was on Tuesday July 14 2020 at the Carpenter Shop/White Horse Ministry in Mission; and a Celebration of Life service at 11am Wednesday, July 15, with a burial following at the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Veterans Cemetery. Wopila.