Mel Tonasket was not formally educated but he had lobbied and negotiated with Congressman and Senators. When Mel was in Washington D.C. he heard the fancy words from the Solicitors office. He was determined to fight for tribes and not let the “Suyapees” (Anglos) get the best of us — so when he traveled he carried a little dictionary and would look up words so they couldn’t beat him with fancy words.
Mel would tell you himself that he struggled in school. He’d laugh and say he was good at Art and P.E. Sometimes he would tell the NCAI Executive Director, Chuck Trimble what he wanted to say and his E.D. would write it up...
Hill, Margo. "Wisdom From Mel: It's Okay to Not Know Everything." Indian Country Today Media Network. September 11, 2013. Article. (https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/wisdom-from-mel-its..., accessed September 11, 2013)