Frank was destined to be one of Indian Country’s foremost storytellers. He was born in Pipestone, Minn. where his Eastern Cherokee father and Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota mother made their home. This is the site of the pipestone quarry which continues to speak the sacred pipe stories that honor us all.
His family moved to Phoenix, Ariz. where Frank made many friends and enjoyed playing baseball. He also met the love of his life Bernie, a member of the Navajo Nation, and graduated from Arizona State University. Frank career in public television also started there in operations management with KAET-TV licensed at ASU.
In 1972, a group of public television stations met together with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the purpose of developing a plan to train Native American producers and Native American Programs for public television. This led to the creation of the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium. The new organization established it headquarters with Native Public Media and the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1976. Frank Blythe was hired as the first executive director. Under Frank’s leadership, NAPBC, in 1974, formed American Indian Radio on Satellite which assisted in establishing The Native Radio Network which still operates serviced by a separate organization Native Public Media in Arizona. From 1976 until 2006, Frank led the organization now named Vision Maker Media from a concept to a major institution providing training and financial support for hundreds of Native Media Producers and creating the largest archive of Native films in the country.
Frank made many friends and colleagues along the way who worked with him both Native and Non-Native who made possible his journey in storytelling.
A great storyteller has passed on to the spirit world with his stories remaining with us to learn and to share. That is his legacy.
Mass of Christian Burial was Thursday, July 27 at North American Martyrs Catholic Church. Interment was in the Calvary Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Vision Maker Media.