Claudia Brown Spicer, 92, was born on April 19, 1931 in Pawnee Indian Territory, Oklahoma to Frank “Sugar” Brown, Sr. and Ella Irene Brown. She started her journey to the spirit world on August 2, 2023 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Claudia spent her early years in school and traveling with her family. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Claudia would travel with the Ringling Brothers, the Barnum & Bailey Circus, and numerous other circuses with her parents and siblings in the Sugar Brown Dance Troupe. The family traveled internationally and spent their winters in Florida with the circus. Claudia’s performing acts were the cloud swing, trapeze, and dancing.
When the Brown family wasn’t wintering in Florida, they lived in Los Angeles, where Claudia studied opera, which gave the miraculous voice talent to sing the Lord’s Prayers at the opening of many Oklahoma celebrations in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. She also sang the National Anthem at the American Indian Exposition.
Claudia and her family came home to the Otoe reservation every year. During the Otoe Encampment, Claudia’s father, Frank, would provide rations for all Otoe families. Claudia was the first princess for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe from 1947 to 1949. She served as the head lady for Otoe Encampment three times and was a proud member of the Pigeon Clan.
Claudia was a champion southern buckskin dancer. Most notably, she danced in the opening ceremony for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and performed for the Queen of England at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. She was the first Gathering of Nations Champion in Women’s Southern Buckskin and won the Schemitzun powwow championship numerous times. Claudia made many friends across Indian Country during her travels. She was adopted by Eddie and Dawn Little Sky and given the Sicangu Lakota name, Canté Wasté Wïn, which translates to Good Heart Woman. She adopted many powwow friends and saw them as her family, including: A.J. Redman, the late Spike Draper, the late Charles Dru, the Fiddler family, Amber Old Horn, Da Lynn Bailey, Delaine Alley, Kelly Mae Downwind, Joe Lafferty, Warshield White, the late Wanbli Chargingeagle, Wayne Nelson, Jonathan Windyboy, and many others.
In 1968, Claudia met her husband, Tommy Spicer (Seneca Cayuga), and they made their home in Miami, Oklahoma, where Claudia worked forty years as a certified nursing assistant. Claudia and Tommy were married for forty-seven years before Tommy passed on August 2, 2016, the same day as Claudia’s passing in 2023.
Claudia overcame many obstacles and ailments in her lifetime, including the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in 1997 and Alzheimer’s Disease in 2001. Despite this, she still danced for the last twenty two years of her life.
Claudia is preceded in death by her husband Tommy, parents Frank “Sugar” Brown, Sr. and Ella Irene Brown, siblings Isabelle Whitehorn, Frank Brown, Jr., Orville Brown, Johnny Brown, Elmer Brown, Laverne Brown, and Irvin Brown, children Browning No Ear, Douglas No Ear, Doreen Noear, Joey Whitehorn, grandchildren Cochise NoEar, Dayne Whitehorn, and Kyle Buck, as well as many other relatives and loved ones.
Claudia is survived by her children Salina NoEar-Todome, Amy NoEar-Banegas, Sean Spicer, Fern Robedeaux-Buck, and Paul Robedeaux, grandchildren Adele NoEar, Hawk Hartico, Terrance Todome, Ellis “Audie” Todome, Douglas Whitehawk, Danielle Shade, Sadie Red Eagle, Douglas Whitehorn, Sofia Banegas, Otis Buck, Jr., Lindsey Buck, Frankie Buck, Lacee Buck, Lillie Buck, and Dallas Buck, several great-grandchildren, and many adopted grandchildren on the Powwow circuit.
Wake services will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, 2023 and Funeral Services will be held at noon on Sunday, August 6, 2023 at the Otoe Missouria Cultural Center, with Gary Chink Whitecloud officiating. Burial will follow in the Otoe-Missouria Cemetery. The Otoe-Missouria Native American Church will be overseeing all of the services.