The chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation died Tuesday of natural causes.
Jim Boyd, a noted singer-songwriter and chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, died Tuesday of natural causes, his family said. He was 60.
Boyd began playing guitar as a child in a military family, graduating to cover and rock bands. He began writing his own music when he was in his 30s, and contributed songs to the soundtrack of the 1998 film “Smoke Signals.” In 2014, he received a lifetime-achievement award from the Native American Music Awards.
Closer to home, he has been tribal chairman since 2014.
“This is a very, very sad day for the Colville Tribes,” Colville Business Council Vice Chairman Michael Marchand said in a prepared statement. “Jim was a guy that was very focused and intelligent, a great storyteller. He lived life to the fullest, and his good nature and sense of humor were infectious.”
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Poet and novelist Sherman Alexie met Boyd in 1992, and the men soon began writing music together, Alexie said Wednesday. He called their collaboration an easy one.
Alexie last saw Boyd a year ago, when the musician sang at the funeral of Alexie’s mother, Lillian. Boyd also sang at Alexie’s father’s funeral a decade ago, and at Alexie’s wedding.
Alexie said he saw the musician really grow as an artist.
Boyd was a member of the Arrow Lakes Band, one of the 12 tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. In a 2014 interview, Boyd said his work for the tribe had curbed his artistic output somewhat, though he continued to write and perform when he could.
“I haven’t really played as a musician the way I used to for probably five years, but I still record and write and produce,” he said. “I write about the same things, but I don’t put everything out.”
Boyd had run for a third term in the most recent tribal-council election, which was held Saturday. Votes are still being tallied.
“He was fine being a citizen, but when people wanted him to run and serve, he did it out of love,” said John Sirois, a former council member. “He honored that request from elders and from people in his family.”
Boyd brought understanding and strong listening skills to the role of chairman of the 9,000-member tribe.
“It’s a unique position, because you’re serving a tribal government that’s highly democratic and interactive,” Sirois said. “You’re on 24/7. … You’re the spokesperson for the tribe and you’re the one that’s garnering consensus among 13 other members of the council.
“I think he always carried that in his heart, what the will of the people is,” Sirois said.
Boyd enjoyed those interactions with people, said his wife, Shelly Boyd.
In addition to his wife, Boyd is survived by his mother, Violet Boyd; brothers Lanny and Michael; sisters Pam, Luana and LaDonna; sons Joel, Dakota, Brian and Michael Carson, and daughter Stevey Seymour; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.