Obituary of Paula Ann Starr
Paula was a most selfless, compassionate, caring, and considerate Native woman. She was an enrolled citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and a descendant of Chief Black Kettle. Paula was born to the late Paul Starr, Sr. and the late Sharon Treviño in Claremore, Oklahoma at the IHS hospital in 1954. Her family emigrated to Los Angeles in 1957 under the BIA relocation program.
Paula grew up in the Los Angeles area along with thousands of other Native individuals and families who were also part of the BIA relocation program. She attended UCLA and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California Irvine campus with a degree in Theater Arts and American Indian Studies. She further pursued graduate studies in Theater Arts at Cal State University Long Beach.
Paula had an immeasurable commitment to the Native Community both locally and nationally. Beginning with her activist immersion as a young Native woman, Paula helped coordinate parts of the ‘The Longest Walk’, a protest to prevent Congress from abrogating all treaties with Native Nations nationwide. Paula was involved with the American Indian Movement during this trek; subsequently, the protest was successful.
In June of 1990, Paula was an invited guest for Nelson Mandela at the Los Angeles Coliseum where she and her daughter Starr, presented him with an eagle feather as a tribute to freedom. Paula was later employed by the Southern California Indian Center, Inc (SCIC), a nonprofit grassroots organization that assisted and served the largest concentration of off-reservation Natives in the country. She served as the Executive Director of SCIC for over two decades, finally retiring in 2019. During her tenure as the Executive Director, Paula produced several short films, documentaries, and several public service commercials.
She also served on numerous boards and commissions in the Southern California area: Paula was the commissioner of the Los Angeles County/City Native American Indian Commission; Member of the Native Voices for the Autry National Center Museum; Commissioner for the Los Angeles City Workforce Development Board; Recording Secretary for the Native American Caucus-California Democrat Party; Vice-Chair of the Urban Indian Development Corporation; Commissioner for the County of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board; Executive Producer for Intertribal Entertainment and Creative Spirit. She also co-authored ‘Child Welfare—Multicultural, Pearson Education, published in 1999.
After retiring from the hectic pace of Los Angeles, Paula resided in Kiefer, Oklahoma where she continued helping people working part-time as a tutor for students in the Kiefer School District.
Paula was a parent, grandmother and wife who enjoyed filmmaking, sewing, her family and humor. She is survived by her husband Eugene Herrod, daughters Starr Robideau of Okmulgee, Oklahoma; Samantha Herrod of Los Angeles, CA; Gina Mitchell of Tallahassee, Florida; her brother and sister-in-law Randy & Andrea Treviño of Lake Elsinore, CA; and her sister Cheri Grayson of Calumet, Oklahoma. She has seven grandchildren: Ceasar Macedo in Lake Elsinore California, William Robideau in Okmulgee, Oklahoma; Avery Stansbury in Los Angeles, California; Chelsea and Christine Mitchell in Tallahassee, Florida; and Dustin and Haley Mitchel in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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