A look back: Celebrating Antone Minthorn

Ecotrust Team

Ecotrust Team

Antone Minthorn, after whom the Big Dawn Board Room was named, shares remarks during the honoring ceremony in 2022. Photo credit: Kari Rowe

In 2022, Ecotrust revealed the new name for the cedar-walled board room at the Redd on Salmon Street: Big Dawn Board Room. The name comes from Ecotrust’s long-time board member, Antone Minthorn (Cayuse), whose Indian name Himéeqis Káa’awn approximately means “big dawn.”

All photos were taken by Kari Rowe during the June 2022 honoring ceremony.

On June 23, 2022, friends, family, and community members gathered in the Main Hall of the Redd on Salmon Street to celebrate Antone Minthorn (Cayuse), one of the most esteemed tribal leaders in the Pacific Northwest and a longtime Ecotrust board member.

Among Antone’s many accomplishments, he served “16 years in his community’s Tribal government.” He has also worked since 2010 for the restoration of the Cayuse-Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Walla Walla languages. Additionally, Antone was a key figure in the adoption of a paramount salmon policy for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission to stop salmon extinction in the Columbia River Basin. He has served on numerous boards in the region, and we’ve been immensely grateful for his more than 20 years as an Ecotrust board member.

As part of the opening of the ceremony, the Cayuse Singers performed the Dedication Song.


The Cayuse Singers, with Randy Minthorn, Antone’s son, standing. 

Lisa J. Watt, director of Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Program, wraps Antone in a blanket during the honoring ceremony. Standing behind them are Dr. Philip Cash Cash, a linguist and 2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Awardee, and Spencer B. Beebe, Ecotrust founder.


From left to right: Antone Minthorn, Dr. Philip Cash Cash, Lisa J. Watt, and Spencer B. Beebe. 

Following the ceremony, Antone Minthorn, friends, family, and community were invited to view the Big Dawn Board Room, named after Antone’s Indian name Himéeqis Káa’awn.


The placard outside the board room. 


Antone Minthorn enters the Big Dawn Board Room, with Spencer B. Beebe (left) and Dr. Philip Cash Cash (right). 

A placard outside the Big Dawn Board Room includes a statement from Antone. It reads:

“I was raised by my grandparents on the Umatilla Indian Reservation (UIR) in northeast Oregon. The UIR is the homeland of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes. My grandfather was of the Cayuse tribe who had adopted the Nez Perce language long ago. My grandmother was of the Whitebird Band of the Nez Perce tribe. I was born in 1935, and I am 87 years old today. I always spoke Nez Perce with my grandmother who passed in 1960. She was in her 90s. At the time of the Nez Perce War of 1877, there were three brothers: Big Dawn, Red Elk, and Yellow Bull. Yellow Bull was one of Chief Joseph’s war chiefs, and he survived the war. Those brothers were my grandmother’s people and that is where my Indian name, Big Dawn, comes from. 

That is all. Antone.”

–Antone Minthorn (Cayuse), 2022
Himéeqis Káa’awn


Antone Minthorn views the framed photos celebrating his lifetime achivements, inside the Big Dawn Board Room. 

Ecotrust extends a heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined us for this event, including

Spencer B. Beebe, Ecotrust founder

Dr. Philip Cash Cash, linguist and 2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Awardee

The Cayuse Singers

Antone’s family in attendance: Randall Minthorn, Toni Marie Cordell, Modesta Minthorn, Molly Allen, Kimberly Minthorn, Naomi Wilkes, and Khrystal Johnson

And we thank Antone for his significant contributions and continued friendship with Ecotrust.


Seated: Antone, son Randall Minthorn, Standing: (L to R) daughters and granddaughters Toni Marie Cordell, Modesta Minthorn, Molly Allen, Kimberly Minthorn, Naomi Wilkes, and Khrystal Johnson 


press release


Pendleton, Ore. – June 23, 2022 – Antone Minthorn is a visionary who thinks before he speaks.

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