Jim Pepper (1941-1992), a Native American virtuoso jazz musician of international significance, was born in Salem and died at home in Portland of lymphoma.
Of Creek and Kaw ancestry, Jim’s Indian name was Hunga-che-ada, the Flying Eagle.
In a career that bridged cultures and continents, Jim Pepper created a sound that was all his own, a synthesis of Native American songs and chants, jazz, and the rhythms of Africa, South America and the Caribbean.
A highly original singer, dancer, bandleader, composer, innovator and legendary saxophone player, Jim performed throughout the United States, Europe and Africa alongside the greatest players of the day.
Jim Pepper’s posthumous honorings include: Lifetime Musical Achievement Award by the First Americans in the Arts (1999); Indian Hall of Fame(1998); Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame (2000).
Floy Pepper spoke during her acceptance of her son's First Americans in the Arts award in 1999: “Jim Pepper was a member of the Kaw Indian Nation known as 'The Wind People' from his father. From me, his mother, he was a member of the Creek Indian Nation known as 'The People of the Waters.' It's no wonder his music was so strong and powerful--with the wind to carry his music to the four directions of the Earth. And as long as the grass shall grow and the waters flow--which is forever--may his spirit remain alive for time immemorial”
In 2005, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 31, honoring the life and achievements of Jim Pepper. SJR 31 encouraged the creation and endowment of the Jim Pepper Hunga-che-ada Flying Eagle Chair at Portland State University “to further the study of Native American music and its relationship to jazz.”
Now, in 2010, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Native American Studies Department, Portland State University, has committed its support to the Jim Pepper Arts Festival and created the Jim Pepper Remembrance Scholarship Fund.
The 2010 Founding Occupant of the Jim Pepper Hunga-che-ada Flying Eagle Chair will be Gunther Schuller, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
The Jim Pepper Remembrance Scholarship Fund will provide financial assistance to students enrolling in the Native American Studies Department at Portland State University.
Contributions should be sent to:
Jim Pepper Remembrance Scholarship Fund
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Native American Studies
Portland State University
Post Office Box 751 503-725-3081 tel
Portland, Oregon 97207-0751 503-725-3905 fax