Biographical / Historical
Dr. Charles Ronald Corum was born in 1945 and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended the University of Louisville (UofL) where he received a B.A. in psychology in 1971; a M.A. in experimental psychology in 1973; and a Ph.D in physiological psychology and psychosomatic medicine in 1975. While attending UofL, Corum became friends with Dr. David Maurer a renowned linguist and scholar on the UofL faculty. Many years prior Maurer had learned the Lakota language from Frederick Weygold (1870-1941), a German artist and ethnographer who was employed by German museums to document Native American life and culture. Maurer shared his knowledge of the Lakota language with Corum who wanted to speak with tribal elders in order to study the Lakota culture as well as their approach to treating diseases such as cancer and chronic pain. In the summer of 1973, Corum made his first visit to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations in South Dakota. Brian Beun with Foxfire Fund, Inc. and Institutional Development and Economic Affairs Service, Inc. (IDEAS) gave Corum research funding and connected him with Stephen E. Feraca who had lived on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. This was a fortuitous and supportive connection; Feraca introduced Corum to Edgar Red Cloud gr-grandson of Chief Red Cloud (Mahpiya Luta) who hosted, mentored, and introduced Corum to other Lakota elders, of note Harry Jumping Bull and George Eagle Elk.
Corum continued visiting the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations until 1978. During his stays he obtained verbal consent to record oral history narratives and songs as well as take photographs. Eventually, Corum went through a vision seeking ceremony and was adopted by Edgar Red Cloud who gave him the name "Mahpiya Papomi” (Rolling Cloud). Edgar Red Cloud asked Corum to record and publish the farewell songs and prayers of his gr-grandfather Chief Red Cloud which had not been documented previously in either format . Drawing from his experiences on the Indian reservations, Corum published scholarly articles regarding Lakota culture and artwork as well as Weygold’s portrait of Chief Red Cloud.
Since 1975, Corum has focused on professional research and publication within the field of neurophysiology. Currently he is researching and, along with Dr. Christian Feest, co-curating a traveling exhibit featuring Frederick Weygold’s paintings of the American West. The exhibit will open in 2016 at the J. B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
1. Corum, C. Ronald and Meyer, Mary Ann (1981). The Farewell Song and Prayer of Mahpiya Luta, Oglal Sioux Chieftain. Adena: A Journal of the History and Culture of the Ohio Valley, 6(1), 7-12.