Here’s a reprint from the Native American Women’s Association newsletter – the Indican Community Newsletter.
REPRINT OF AUGUST 2008 ARTICLE ON THE TALLTREES
Robert and Terri TallTree have been married since 1995 and have lived in Colorado Springs since that time, but Robert’s ties to this area date back to 1978 when he originally moved here. Before they married, Terri had made her own mark on the corporate world developing innovative training programs in a variety of fields. After their marriage, together they began a budding culturally based educational business that now keeps them on the road most of the year.
At first, Terri was basically in the background during these programs, but that all changed when Robert developed laryngitis during a scheduled program and Terri had to take over for the day. Since then they have done the programs together, with much success in a business that continues to grow yearly and is now international. Before marriage, Terri had been traditionally trained in Lakota philosophy and ceremony and permitted by the elders to use what she learned to teach others in her career field.
They have presented their programs in such places as Morocco, Spain, England, Gibraltar, Canada, and across the USA. They also do dozens of presentations at American Indian schools each year, as well as many other places. One year, they spoke to more than 200,000 school children in Wisconsin and Colorado alone. Their programs now include lectures, workshops, concerts and plenty of culturally relevant subjects and motivational material.
Robert’s involvement in this area includes owning a shop in Manitou Springs from 1980 to 1994 where he created and sold his own and other talented Native’s unique silver jewelry and other artwork. From 1985 to 1989 he headed the local Lone Feather Indian Council in a position that was then called Chief. For two years, he was the host of the Native American segment of KKTV’s Involvement television series, a weekly program featuring hosts presenting minority topics and interviewees from the Pikes Peak area. Robert hosted once or twice a month.
He played the role of Alessandro in the 1985 historic play production of Helen Hunt Jackson’s book “Ramona” that was performed over several days at the Pioneer Museum. He has also acted in several movies and authored the best-selling children’s book The Legend of Spinoza. Along the way, he has several times been asked to help ceremonially welcome emigrants taking the oath of allegiance as new American citizens.
Robert also learned to play a flute after he fell in love with a beautiful flute that he acquired by trading several valuable pieces of his original jewelry. He now owns close to a hundred flutes and is an accomplished flautist. He has been nominated for a Native American Music Award for his “Echoes of the Heart – A Sacred Journey” flute music CD.
Robert’s mother is Naomi End-of-Day Woman, who many of us know. His great grandmother named him Con-nos-sem-tig, which translates to “tree growing toward the heavens,” or Tall Tree. When he was a young man, he traveled often with his tribal elders, and they taught him as they traveled.
Robert is a direct lineal descendent of the Swan Creek band of Saginaw Chippewa. Terri is not Native by blood but has been adopted into the Chippewa Nation.
Terri, for her part, has brought a wide range of CEO and Director of Development experience to their team. She was once presented the Central Ohio Lung Association’s Humanitarian Award for outstanding contributions in developing programs for children with asthma. She has been featured in the book Who We Could Be At Work by Margaret Lulic as a role model for corporate leaders interested in incorporating spirit into their work place. She helped to grow the Spinoza Teddy Bear Company from a home-based business to a company with 32 employees and an international, multi-million dollar business.
Robert has three children who all live in the Colorado Springs area with their families. His two daughters have given them seven grandchildren. His son is not married yet. Ashley, Alex, Aleyah, Aden and Aizlynn belong to daughter Brandi and carry the names Stargazer, Red Fox, Little Bird, Golden Eagle, and Dreamer (She Has a Vision), respectively. Autumn and Kaylee belong to daughter Cinamyn and carry the names Strawberry Woman and She Soars Like An Eagle.
It will be fun watching these third generation TallTree decendents as they grow up in our midst, and their grandparents continue to represent their family and our community in their international travels.
Robert and Terri are taking the summer off this year for the first time, and their plans include going to the reservation in Michigan for their annual homecoming gathering and family ceremonies. Grandmother Naomi will be there, naturally.
Robert and Terri will be marketing a new teaching kit this fall, “The TallTree Bundle,” and will be very busy getting that ready to go after their summer trip. Then it will be time to go traveling again with the children’s, business, personal and parenting training classes they offer. It has been nice to have them in town over this summer of leisure. You can read more and keep up with their adventures on their web site
Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.” - Ojibwe prayer