Waldo “Buck” Martin, a longtime advocate for Wisconsin’s Native Americans, passed away Monday, his daughter Arvina Martin confirmed. He was 73.
Born on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation outside Shawano, Martin became involved in tribal politics at a young age, taking notes for his father, who served as the tribe’s secretary. He went on to UW-Oshkosh and later became an educator, starting after-school tutoring programs for Native American children and creating a Native American Studies program at UW-Milwaukee.
Later, he served as education director for the Great Lakes Inter-tribal Council, as an adviser to Governor Tommy Thompson and director of the White House Conference on Indian Education in Washington, DC. In 1997, he became a lobbyist for the Stockbridge-Munsee Nation, advocating for the Nation at both the state and federal level. He retired in 2016.
Martin lived in Madison for nearly 40 years with his wife Karen, a member of the Ho-Chunk nation, and their daughters Arvina, Lina and Kiana. His daughter Arvina is the first Native American elected to the Madison Common Council.
“His impact on anyone he met was immeasurable,” Arvina Martin wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “He worked so hard for Indian people and our communities throughout his entire career, and cared deeply about our youth, and their education and futures. His impact on his family is even stronger. His sense of humor, his pride and love for all of us was so very much an integral part of who he was.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.