Cover photo for Dewayne Ellenwood's Obituary
1945 Dewayne 2022

Dewayne Ellenwood

July 7, 1945 — December 3, 2022

Dewayne Kenneth Ellenwood Sr., 77

Dewayne Kenneth Ellenwood Sr. was born July 7, 1945, in Martinez, CA to Audrey ‘Ordie’ Lessor

and Donald Jody Ellenwood. His Creator called him home to join the ancestors on December 3,


Dewayne, a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe, is a descendant of Old Chief Joseph. Dewayne

enjoyed a lifetime of being a trickster and filled those around him with much joy and laughter.

He is a graduate of Andrew P. Hill High School in San Jose, CA where he met his first wife,

Roberta Staiti. They were married February 19, 1963 to April 30, 1970 and their union brought

three sons (Kenneth, Donald, and Dewayne, Jr. Ellenwood) and daughter (Catherine

Ellenwood), their marriage later ended in divorce.

Dewayne married the love of his life Annie Amy Ellenwood on December 24, 1971. They

referred to each other as Lover and got their wedding bands to reflect this unison. Their union

brought two sons (Darryll and Travis Ellenwood) and daughter (Cheryl Ellenwood).

Dewayne’s love for basketball built a network of Indian basketball players that would carry him

to basketball tournaments across Indian reservations throughout the west coast. For decades,

there wasn’t an Indian in the city or reservation who couldn’t be tricked by Dewayne’s famous

under the hoop move, where he put the ball between his legs.

Throughout his life, Dewayne was a man of many trades. He first attended welding school

through the BIA and continued to hone his craft wherever he was. At one point, Dewayne sold

pizza from the Wa-Y’as community kitchen. By the 1980s, he was an iron worker walking high

rise buildings in Los Angeles. By the 1990s, he was a skilled welder who wielded his torch

throughout the Bay Area, from FMC to Westinghouse where he worked on nuclear submarines

including the Seawolf. Upon returning to his homelands of Kamiah in the 1990s, Dewayne

welded throughout the Pacific Northwest including working for TERO and rebuilding bridges in

Kooskia, Kamiah, and Cherry Lane. In his later years, he worked on dam shutdowns including

Dworshak, Grand Coulee, Ice Harbor, Little Goose, among many others along the Snake and

Columbia River.

Dewayne loved his family and children. In California, Dewayne enjoyed attending his sons’

Kenny, Donald, Dewayne Jr. and Darryll’s basketball and baseball games. In Idaho, though

his work required much travel, Dewayne eagerly traveled back to Kamiah anxious to see his son

and daughter play sports. He held a deep love for his family and often built custom porches and

other projects for his mother and his wife.

Dewayne was also a fancy dancer and later a traditional dancer who traveled to powwows in

the west. Dewayne entered the powwow circle with the generosity of those around him and he

continued that generosity by supporting others who wanted to dance. Dewayne made colorful

fancy bustles for himself and all his sons. He made many friends on the powwow circuit that he would cherish into his later life. Above all, Lookingglass Powwow was his favorite and he

enjoyed the closeness of the community and circle.

For Dewayne, basketball continued to be life well into his 40s, 50s, and 60s. He played with

other local legends such as Wendell Davis, Leroy Seth, Albert Pinkham Jr., Jesse Curry, Kub

Ellenwood, John Strombeck and countless others. To keep young, he continued playing at open

gym in Kamiah and Kooskia where the local young bucks were introduced to his famous move.

His love of the game was also evident in his support for local high school ballers on the


Dewayne enjoyed exercising his sovereign treaty rights in usual and accustomed places to hunt,

gather, and dig roots with his sons, grandsons, and friends on his homelands.

His favorite teams were the Kamiah Kubs, Oakland A’s, Gonzaga Basketball, and recently

enjoyed attending Raider games with his brother.

Dewayne was a trickster and could make anyone smile with his humor. He generously shared

his oral traditions with anyone. His specialty was sharing tall tales with such detail and energy

that one might not know if they were true or not. To this day, no one knows what happened to

his finger.

After completing his journey to the spirit world, Dewayne will be greeted by his parents; his

sister Betty Hardridge, his sons (Kenneth and Darryll Ellenwood); and his daughter Catherine

Ellenwood. He will also rejoin his wife and ‘Lover’, Annie Amy Ellenwood – reuniting just in time

to celebrate their 51 st wedding anniversary on Christmas eve.

Dewayne’s legacy will continue within his sons (Dewayne Jr., Donald, and Travis Ellenwood) and

daughter Cheryl Ellenwood. He is also survived by his brother Chester Jr. and Terri Lessor. In

Ellenwood tradition, Dewayne is survived by his grandsons (Ryan, Joshua, Dakota, Jayden,

Codey, Korbin, Candyn, Austin, Lorenzo, Awan, and Moses as well as Teo Castro and Luca

Castro) and granddaughters (Sarah Kempner, Amanda Ellenwood, and Quyntz Ellenwood). And

many great grandchildren, nephews, and nieces all of whom he loved immensely.

Dewayne danced throughout his lifetime, and he is now dancing fast and fancy to the beat of

the drum, with his lover Amy at his side.

A memorial service will be conducted at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 8 at Wa-Y’as

Community Center in Kamiah, Idaho, with Reverend Mary Jane Miles officiating. A wake will

occur until the funeral service. The funeral services will be conducted at 10 a.m., Friday,

December 9 at the Wa-Y’as Community Center. Burial will be at the Nez Perce Tribal cemetery

on No Kidd Lane in Kamiah. A dinner will follow at the Wa-Y’as and all his family and friends are

welcome. Although not required, it is appreciated that those who attend wear masks at the

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dewayne Ellenwood, please visit our flower store.


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