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Remembering David Gypsy Chain

A scholarship in memory of a forest defender

David Nathan Chain was a young forest activist killed in 1998 while trying to prevent illegal logging in an Earth First! action near Grizzly Creek in the Van Duzen River valley. Childhood friends in Texas remember David as a gentle, loving man who considered becoming a chiropractor. Traveling to Humboldt County in the midst of the timber controversy, David learned tree-climbing and nonviolent protest tactics; he took the wood’s name “Gypsy.” The story of his vibrant life and tragic death at twenty-four is documented in ‘A Good Forest For Dying,’ by Patrick Beach (2004). On the 20th anniversary of Gypsy’s death, community leaders, friends, and fellow activists established this fund to provide an annual scholarship for a local high school senior or first year student at Humboldt State University or College of the Redwoods who has demonstrated commitment to issues of forest ecology through volunteer and/or academic projects.

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We met with 2019-2020 Scholarship recipient

and scholarship supporters

Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 4:30 to 5:30

Humboldt State University Library "Fishbowl", Room 209

HSU Freshman Anne Rants is the recipient of the first

"Gypsy Chain" memorial scholarship


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"Gypsy Chain Scholarship Award"

The first scholarship awarded in memory of forest defender David "Gypsy" Chain has inspired HSU Freshman Anne Marie Rants, a 2019 graduate of Hoopa High School. 

Scholarship recipient Anne Rants links her college plans with her dedication to defending the Earth, and transmitting traditional ecological knowledge to new generations. 

"Oftentimes people talk about respect as it applies to people, not taking into account that the land needs to be respected as well," Anne explains. "I feel thankful and honored that there are people out there who want to remember Gypsy and his passion as a forest protector."

A descendant of Karuk, Shasta, and Aleutian tribes, Anne has been deeply involved in water and fisheries before starting school at HSU. Through the Karuk Tribe, she monitored river and fish conditions as an intern, and with a youth training exchange at the University of Washington in Summer 2019. While in high school, Anne traveled to Chile with a delegation of Klamath River Indigenous youth in solidarity with communities there who are also fighting to keep their rivers free of dams.  Ann believes that "people so often do not realize the role of an activist. The whole firest work in activist is 'ACT'. We often talk about issues like climate change and forest protection but do not take action, because we do not know where to start on issues that seem hopeless ... So I would like to thank Gypsy, and all the people who made this scholarship possible, for giving me aid as well as hope".

Scholarship committee member Rabbi Naomi Steinberg remarks, "We are especially delighted that Anne's deep roots in the area, and her intention to contribute to her community, make supporting her studies at HSU a great way to honor Gypsy's memory." Committee member Judith Mayer, who teaches in HSU's Environmental Science and Management program, notes that "the intention of the scholarship is to support students dedicated to protecting Planet Earth, especially the forests and waters of this region.  Ann Rants represents the values that the Gypsy Chain scholarship sustains."

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