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Velma Bullis Hartman • 1949 – 2013

The obituary below was contributed by Velma Bullis Hartman’s husband, John Hartman, President of AAC. It appeared originally in the Apache Messenger.


How do we sum up an extraordinary life in a few paragraphs? I will try to be brief. Velma passed away peacefully in our home on August 1st, while undergoing hospice care. Thank you so much to Copper Communities Hospice for their wonderful service. Velma and I came to the San Carlos Reservation in 1992, shortly after she completed her Master's degree in Psychology from Antioch University in Santa Barbara, California. We came to San Carlos to assist her father, Lonnie Bullis, in the last seven years of his life. For the last 21 years I have had the honor of serving the Apache Community in the emergency room of the San Carlos Hospital. Velma has held various positions in the community including Youth Home Manager, counselor and school teacher.

Velma is the great granddaughter of the Apache chief Capitan Chiquito. Capitan Chiquito was sent to prison in 1890 after being accused of harboring the Apache Kid in Aravaipa Canyon. Capitan Chiquito was imprisoned for three years with Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches at Mt. Vernon Barracks in Alabama. The San Carlos Indian Agent that ordered the arrest of Capitan Chiquito and his family was Captain John Bullis, and Chiquito was later to take his surname of Bullis. When Capitan was sent to Mount Vernon, his eight year old son, Dajida, was taken from him and sent to the Carlisle Indian School near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Velma is of the Tsee Jine or Tsebina z tie clan of Aravaipa Canyon. The name Bullis was attached to her family when Capitan Chiquito acquired possession of the land where the Camp Grant Massacre took place. This story is told in the book Big Sycamore Stands Alone by Ian Record and Shadows at Dawn by Karl Jacoby.

Dajida the arrowmaker, Velma’s grandfather, was thoroughly re-inculturated and given the name of Alonzo Speiche at the Carlisle Indian School. Alonzo returned to San Carlos as an Apache interpreter for Bishop Uplegger at the Lutheran Mission in Peridot. He died at forty two years of age from tuberculosis acquired at Carlisle. Alonzo had a son named Lonnie in 1907 after he graduated from the Carlisle Indian School. Lonnie was raised at Old San Carlos until he went away to Haskell University in Kansas to be trained as an accountant. After graduation, Lonnie eventually was given a job by the Swift Company in Clinton, Iowa as an Accountant. After retiring from Swift, he returned to San Carlos to work as a Bureau of Indian Affairs accountant for nine years.

Velma was born in Clinton, Iowa. Velma had to piece together her Apache history bit by bit over the years, because it had been so thoroughly and purposefully destroyed by the U.S. Government's plan to obliterate Apache culture. Forgive my long explanation of Velma's Apache history, but she was often hurt by the Apache tribe's reluctance to see her as a ‘real Apache,’ although she was a tribal member.

After graduating from Clinton High School, Velma studied art in college before joining a religious order in Chicago in 1973. Velma was a Sister in this religious order when I first met her in Los Angelos in 1976. Velma was a Sister in Christ the Savior Brotherhood for over 15 years and specialized in the Christian education of children. I first visited San Carlos in 1977 when Lonnie Bullis lived in the building that is now the Tribal Wellness Center. Velma was a devout Orthodox Christian and every Sunday we would attend services at the St. Paisius Christian Woman's Monastery south of Safford. According to Velma's wishes, she was buried at the St. Paisius Orthodox Monastery on August 6th.

Velma is survived by myself, John Hartman, and my three children; and her sister Deana Reed of Moline, Illinois and her five children; and her brother Dwayne Bullis of McLean, Texas and his daughter; and Velma's Apache godchild Melissa Dudley.

Velma Bullis Hartman

The children of San Carlos need to have the opportunity to connect to the land and learn from the history of their people.

Velma Bullis Hartman.