Chief Big Eagle Family and Personal

Chief Big Eagle Feeding Deer <br />

Aurelius H. Piper Sr. (Chief Big Eagle) feeding deer.

Chief Big Eagle

Aurelius H. Piper, Sr. (Chief Big Eagle) was born on August 31, 1916. He assumed the role of hereditary chief of the Golden Hill Tribe of the Paugussett Nation in 1959 from his mother, Chieftess Rising Star. In his early life, Chief Big Eagle served in the United States military during WWII as part of the North African Campaign. It is presumed that Chief Big Eagle has ten biological children across at least two marriages and two adopted children; reference the Chief’s family tree for more information. Other miscellaneous personal information includes that Chief Big Eagle suffered from two heart attacks and owned a trucking company for forty years. 

As chief, he traveled both domestically and internationally representing the Golden Hill Paugussett, championing for indigenous rights. Chief Big Eagle founded the White Buffalo Society, a federally registered non-profit, inter-tribal organization. The organization’s seal can be seen on several of the letters Chief Big Eagle wrote to Saygo. He also founded the American Indian Prison Project, a group that provides indigenous inmates access to traditional spiritual rituals such as smudging and sweat lodges. Chief Big Eagle references his visits to various prisons across the collection. In 1985, Chief Big Eagle co-authored Quarter Acre of Heartache with Claude Smith detailing the story of the Paugussett nation and their fight to save the nation’s small parcel of land. Chief Big Eagle died on August 3, 2008 at the age of 92 from natural causes.

Chief Big Eagle and Family

Chief Big Eagle with wife Marsha and two children Shoran and Little Eagle. 

Marsha Conte Piper

Marsha Conte Piper was the second wife of Aurelius H. Piper, Sr. (Chief Big Eagle). She was born around 1957, but little details are known about her life. Marsha and Chief Big Eagle had two biological children which can be gathered from the letters written to Saygo. Her first child was Shoran Waupatukuay Piper (referenced as Waup Athoo Kwey) who was born on March 3, 1981. The second child, a son named Little Eagle Piper, was born on February 11, 1983. Both children are mentioned throughout the collection of letters. Throughout the collection it is clear that Marsha struggled with many health issues, the biggest being her vision. In one letter Chief Big Eagle mentions that she had been hit in the head with a crowbar by her stepfather, which is suspected to have caused her vision problems. It is also known that she had a passion for bead working and would travel to teach classes. Marsha was alive as of 2008.

Aurelius H. Piper, Jr. (Chief Quiet Hawk)

Aurelius Henry Piper Jr. (Chief Quiet Hawk).

Chief Quiet Hawk 

Aurelius H. Piper, Jr. (Quiet Hawk) was born on January 16, 1945. He was the son of Aurelius H. Piper, Sr. (Chief Big Eagle) and Lena Sanders Piper. He was the firstborn child of Chief Big Eagle and was one of two children from the Chief’s first marriage to Lena. Quiet Hawk was raised in Ansonia, Connecticut, and attended elementary, middle, and high school in the city. Quiet Hawk was heavily involved in the tribal unit as well as the state of Connecticut. He served as the Executive Director of the Golden Hill Development Corporation II, the Program Director/Counselor for Fornham House of Middletown, CT, and worked as Regional Ombudsman for the State of Connecticut Department on Aging. He was eventually appointed to the State of Connecticut Advisory Board on Long-Term Care by Governor Willam O’Neill. In all of these positions, Chief Quiet Hawk was responsible for uplifting the quality of life of the people he served. When Chief Big Eagle passed in 2008, Quiet Hawk assumed the title of hereditary chief of the Golden Hill Paugussett. Quiet Hawk had many siblings: Shoran Waupatukuay Piper of Trumbull, Irina Loukina Piper of Trumbull, Julia Piper of Colchester, and Little Eagle Piper of Maine. He was predeceased by his siblings Rhonda Piper, Gilbert Piper, Kenneth Moon Face Bear Piper, Geronimo Piper, Donald Piper, and Aurelius Piper. He passed on April 26, 2021.

Moonface Bear

Kenneth Piper (Moonface Bear) was born around 1961. He was the second son of Aurelius H. Piper, Sr. (Chief Big Eagle) and Lena Sanders Piper. He grew up outside of Bridgeport on the one-quarter-acre remnant of the tribe's reservation in Trumbull, but was sent to live on other tribe-owned lands in the early 1980s. Moonface Bear was a central figure in a 10-week armed standoff in 1993 between the state police and the Colchester faction of the tribe over the sale of untaxed cigarettes on the reservation. Moonface Bear believed he could sell untaxed cigarettes under the power of tribal sovereignty, but the Federal Government had not granted them that power. The Paugussett tribe had not been recognized as a sovereign nation and that was what would’ve allowed them to create a tax-free business. Moonface Bear argued that those were innate sovereign rights to be claimed by Indians, not by outsiders. Chief Big Eagle and Quiet Hawk, as well as the tribe, wanted to go through the correct legal process so they did not side with Moonface Bear. He died in 1996 from Leukemia but was survived by his wife, Misty, of Colchester, and by a daughter, Pretty Pony, and a son, Kicking Bear, both of New York City.

Chief Big Eagle's Family Tree

Chief Big Eagle's Family Tree

A rendering of Chief Big Eagle's family tree.

Chief Big Eagle Family and Personal