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Rosebud Yellow Robe - Educator and Native American Folklorist

Phyllis realizes the importance of portraying women in history who made a difference in the world.


Rosebud Yellow Robe, educator and folklorist and author

Rosebud Yellow Robe, educator and folklorist and author

Author and Educator

Rosebud Yellow Robe was an author, educator, lecturer and Native American folklorist. She left an inspiring legacy, for not just her own,but, for all people. She was very influential in changing the stigma in society about the American Indian. It was part of her life-long dedication to other cultures and her own people

It is so encouraging and awe-inspiring to look back in history and find people who have dedicated their lives to giving hope, encouragement and renewed life to their people and to help others better understand all Native Americans. Rosebud Yellow Robe and her father, Chauncey Yellow Robe, were such people.

Early Life

Rosebud was born February 26, 1907 in Rapid City, South Dakota. She was the eldest daughter of Chauncey Yellow Robe. Throughout her adult life she fought against prejudice. With her ability of showing patience and tolerance she left a lasting impression on all who knew her.

Chauncey named his first daughter after the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The family were registered members of the Sioux Nation. Like her father, Rosebud's main focus in life was being an educator. When Rosebud and her sisters were young, Chauncey spent a lot of time telling them stories in his native Lakota language. It was so important to him to keep his daughters aware of their heritage.

Rosebud's mother was Lillian Belle Springer. She worked at the Rapid City Indian School as a volunteer nurse where she assisted with students of the Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arapaho, Crow and Flathead tribes. She was born in Minnesota in 1885. Her family moved to Tacoma, Washington where Lillian received her education. The year before she was born, Lillian's parents of Swiss-German ancestry had immigrated to Minnesota from Neftenbach, Switzerland. It was her parent's marriage that enabled Rosebud to be open to different cultures and cross the cultural bridges she would encounter later in life. When Lillian died in 1927, Rosebud became the caregiver of her two younger sisters.

After early schooling near her home and attending high school in Rapid City, Rosebud became one of the first Native American women at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, where she received her formal education from 1925 to 1927.

While at the University, Rosebud took part in productions and presentations about Native American dances. She would dance in her traditional regalia and did so with reverence. Her spirituality and love of her people's culture came across so strongly with grace and beauty that the audiences adored her. She was truly admired by all who saw her performances.

Chauncey Yellow Robe

Chauncey Yellow Robe was the great nephew of the famous Dakota Sioux leader, Sitting Bull (Thathanka Iyothanka).

At the age of fifteen, Chauncey was sent to Pennsylvania to attend Carlisle, the first Indian boarding school. In spite of the school trying to remove all signs and inclinations of his heritage, Chauncey never abandoned his heritage or people. He graduated in 1895 with honors and helped his people with cultural differences and difficulties. He entered government service after graduating.

Chauncey later represented the North American Indians at the Congress of Nations at the opening of the World Colombian Exposition in Chicago.

It was very important to Chauncey to pass on the heritage of his people and Rosebud continued this same desire and dedication for the rest of her life. Rosebud continued to learn from her father about the Lakota traditions and her heritage.

President Coolidge, Chauncey and Rosebud Yellow Robe, Dead Wood, South Dakota

August 27, 1927 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was adopted as an honorary member of the Sioux tribe in recognition of his support for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, granting full U.S. citizenship to all American Indians

August 27, 1927 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was adopted as an honorary member of the Sioux tribe in recognition of his support for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, granting full U.S. citizenship to all American Indians

Career and Honors

Rosebud's goal in life was to dispel the common misconception of the image of the Native American. In the early 1930s, Rosebud took her mission further by becoming an educator of children. With her teachings, storytelling and writing she was able to instill in children a revealing insight into Native American culture.

Taking the position of Director of the Jones Beach Indian Village , in Long Island, New York, she was able to further teach children with games, crafts, songs, and of course her storytelling. She wore traditional Lakota clothing when teaching and performing for the children. Rosebud worked at the Village from 1930 to 1950.

Rosebud also worked at the CBS radio station during the 1930s, writing and reading her stories on the air. During the same period, Orson Welles also worked at the station. Many believe that is how he got the idea to use 'Rosebud' as the last word of the dying Citizen Kane. She also appeared often on NBC children's programs during the 1950s.

Rosebud had her first book published in 1969, "Album of the American Indian", depicting the daily lives of seven different Indian tribes prior to European contact. Her second book, of Native American folk tales for children was titled "Tonweya and the Eagles". It was based on the stories told to her and her sisters by Chauncey, their father.

She was a very talented woman of diversity and thousands benefited from her knowledge and desire to teach truth. She devoted her life to this endeavor and had a special place in the hearts of children and adults everywhere. She had the strength and courage to accept people for who they were, to praise their achievements and honor their differences.

A life size portrait of Rosebud was done in oils in 1984 and placed in the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota. She received tribute and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of South Dakota for her ability to cross bridges and cultures and provide a more accurate understanding of the Native American. A scholarship was established in her name in 1993 and 1994 at the University of South Dakota. The Rosebud Yellow Robe Society was also established at the same time.

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Yellow Robe Family

Chauncey Yellow Robe and family, 1915

Chauncey Yellow Robe and family, 1915

Marriage and Death

Rosebud's first husband, Arthur Seymour, a journalist, died in 1949. Their marriage was one of mutual support and inspiration. In 1951, she married photographer Alfred A. Frantz who also supported and encouraged her goals.

Rosebud died from cancer on October 5, 1992. Her strong spirit inspires people even today. Her remarkable devotion and dedication to children and loyalty to the cultures of Native Americans left us a legacy of honor. She is still an inspiration to those wishing to seek truth, learn of their heritage and develop pride in their lineage and people.

Beloved Teacher and Storyteller

Rosebud at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York.

Rosebud at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York.

Note From Author

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 15, 2013:

sgbrown, thank you for the visit and comments. It is fascinating to live close to the cultural influences of Native Americans. The Chickasaw people belong to one of the largest federally recognized tribes -- they were also recognized as one of the Five Civilized Tribes by the government. Many Native American languages are in danger of being lost. I hope the Chickasaw will find a way to keep their language alive -- that is why it is so important to pass down the heritage to the younger generations. Thanks again for the visit, it is much appreciated.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 15, 2013:

Hi Genna. It is good to hear from you. Thank you so much for the visit and comments. Yes, Rosebud was a remarkable and inspiring woman. Her father, Chauncey, taught his daughter well on the importance of keeping their heritage alive. I so admire the Native American respect for nature and also for their ancestral history. Thanks again for stopping by, it is much appreciated.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on June 15, 2013:

Living the last almost 40 years in Oklahoma, I appreciate the Native American culture. I have several young friends that are Chickasaw and I tell them how important it is that they teach their children about their heritage. The Chickasaw language is being lost in children of today and I hate to see that happen. I appreciate the fact that Rosebud made known the true culture of her people. Voting this up and interesting! :)

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 15, 2013:

Ruby, thank you for the visit and comments, it is much appreciated. There were many Native American educators and historical figures who helped their own people and others in many ways.

Have you ever done research on your father to find out what tribe his heritage came from? It would be interesting for you, I am sure.

Thanks again for the visit.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on June 15, 2013:

What a remarkable, inspiring woman. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt a strong connection with Native Americans and find their culture fascinating. Passing on their heritage is so important…not only for them, but for all of us. They possess an understanding and insightful perception of many things I admire…one is a profound respect for nature.

I wondered where Welles came up with the name, “Rosebud,” for the legendary sled in ‘Citizen Kane’ (one of the best films ever made.)

Thank you for sharing this story about this amazing and talented lady.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 15, 2013:

Learning about Rosebud was interesting and enjoyable. I feel close to the native Indian. I was told that my father was part Indian, although i did not know him, i feel the connection. Thank you for sharing. It is wonderful to inform people of the greatness of many Indian educators...

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 15, 2013:

Eddy, I always love hearing from you. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Thank you so much for the visit and comments. I am so happy you like hubs on Native Americans. I have several in my collection and intend to write many more.

Thank you for the votes! Many blessings and many more hubs from us both. Hope your weekend is lovely.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 15, 2013:

Marie, greetings and thank you for the visit and comments. I loved that movie, Citizen Kane, and the sled name intrigued me. I guess, like Joe says, a lot of people have always wondered why he chose the name Rosebud for his sled. There must be more to the story that has been kept well hidden from all but Welles himself.

Research of famous Native American people has always fascinated me. One of my favorite historical figures, is Quanah Parker. The story of him and his mother (Cynthia Anne Parker and Quanah Parker) is another hub from my Native American collection. I think you will like it.

Thanks again for the visit, it is much appreciated.

Eiddwen from Wales on June 15, 2013:

This was a masterpiece Phyllis ;I have a great interest in native Americans and this one was a treat. Well presented and well informed. I vote up, across and shared. Here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here. Enjoy your weekend.


Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on June 15, 2013:

I remember Welles saying "rosebud" at the end of CITIZEN KANE, but I never knew about this lady. A friend explained to me that "rosebud" was the name he had given to his sled, which was shown burning at the end of the movie. That explanation never quite satisfied me. Now that I've read this hub, the utterance of "rosebud" by Citizen Kane (Orson Welles) makes much more sense. Thank you.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 14, 2013:

Hi Joe. Thanks for the visit, read, and comments. You know .... I have often wondered if Welles loved Rosebud in his own way. I have done deep research on Rosebud but cannot find any connection between her and Welles, other than working at the same place. Yet, I feel there was something between them, or may just on Welles side .... some hopeful wish or longing, maybe?

Thanks again for the visit. I am glad you like the artilcle.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on June 14, 2013:

In your research, did you come upon any note hinting at a possible love relationship involving Welles and Rosebud? Just curious. It's always been a mystery to me (and maybe to a lot of other people) why Welles would include such a curious line in his screenplay. Thanks for sharing a wonderful story and tribute to Native Americans.



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