Who Was the Victim?
Exclusive profile and photo of Virgil Dubois
By JONAS OLSON
(NOTE TO OUR READERS: Due to the July 4th break,
Virgil Dubois was born in 1945 in Cliffton. He was raised in a one-room cabin with no water or electricity out near Clear Creek. A pure-blooded Nez Percé indian, he was the eldest son and heir apparent of Chief Three Balls Dubois (contrary to the contemporary witticisms, he was named for his baseball skills). His mother was a homemaker.
Virgil's father, understanding the toll that traditional Native American lifestyles had taken on his Tribe, pushed Virgil to work hard in school. Virgil proved to be an excellent student. In his senior year, he read The Iliad, and it changed his life. He became enamored of Greek culture and eventually went on to study Classics at Harvard on a full scholarship.
Virgil received his Ph.D. in 1970 and returned to Cliffton to accept an Associate Professorship at Cliff that same year. He had been teaching here for three years at the time of his disappearance.
Just days before he was reported missing, Virgil had been appointed Chairman of the Cliff College Sociology/Anthropology Department by the Board of Trustees. The appointment was not without its critics, chief among them being current Soc/Anthro Chairman McGeorge Archibald, who contended that Virgil, several years his junior, had won the coveted position over Archibald by illicit means. "He played the ethnicity card," Archibald was quoted as saying. "It's a classic case of reverse discrimination." And, indeed, Professor Archibald's credentials were considerably more impressive at the time.
When contacted by the Misc, then (and current) Board President Carlotta Schuyler Cliff refused to comment on the 23-year-old controversy. But at the time, Mrs. Cliff told the Misc, "Professor Dubois is a great credit to Cliff College, a great credit to Greek studies, and a great credit to his race. All in all, he is a highly creditable individual."
In 1969, at the young age of 24, Virgil was elected Chief of the Nez Percé. The election campaign was especially bitter as he ran against his younger brother Dennis, a Native American activist who accused Virgil of being a conservative Republican assimilationist. By all accounts, Dennis' accusations were accurate, but the Tribe was apparently more impressed with his academic success than they were repelled by his white-man's politics, which most considered irrelevant to Tribal concerns.
Though Virgil trained as an anthropologist, he was said to have broken his father's heart by specializing in the Greeks instead of working to preserve the culture of his own people. Ironically, his father's death just two months before his disappearance, motivated him to take a sabatical from his Classical studies to do some Tribal research. It was rumored that his work had yielded evidence contradicting the very theory that his brother was championing -- that most of the Cliff College campus was seized illegally from the Nez Percé and should be returned by the U.S. government.