Robert Eaglestaff was inducted during Basketball Hall of Fame Weekend on Feb. 6, 2004.
Robert Eaglestaff was born in Dupree, S.D., and raised on various reservations throughout South Dakota and North Dakota. Growing up, he loved playing basketball. He attended Fort Yates High School and was a member of the 1971 basketball team that captured North Dakota's attention going into the state tournament. Eaglestaff set a North Dakota high school record by scoring 69 points in one game.
Following high school, Eaglestaff enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. During his freshman year at BYU, Eaglestaff averaged 17 points per game for the freshmen team. After a year and a half, he chose to transfer to the University of North Dakota.
After coming to UND, Eaglestaff started for the Sioux, but was slowed by injury. However, instead of being a scorer for the Sioux, he led the team with his superb passing, rebounding and defense.
He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1976 and was then hired as director of Bismarck St. Mary's College Upward Bound program. After one year in his position, Eaglestaff began graduate studies at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He earned a master's in education administration in 1978 and had, by 1980, completed his doctoral studies with the exception of his dissertation.
In 1980 Eaglestaff and his former wife, Jerrilyn Hamely, moved to Washington. In 1983 he began working for the Seattle School District. He became principal of American Indian Heritage School in Seattle in 1989. There he worked tirelessly to change the school's mission, adopting a drug-free and alcohol-free policy, and helping young American Indians earn a high school education while appreciating their heritage.
Eaglestaff achieved much in his life for which he is remembered. As one friend put it, "Bob was such a charasmatic and happy guy ... he never stopped smiling and that is why I won't forget him."
Robert Eaglestaff passed away in July 1996.