Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

For the Record
January 2013

Norma Jean Trickey
ARLEE — Norma Jean Trickey, 86, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on January 2, 2013. Norma was born on May 20, 1926, in Beatrice, Nebraska, to Dale and Faye Thornburg. In 1942 the Thornburg family moved to Montana and in 1945 settled on their ranch in Evaro.

On June 21, 1945, in Hamilton, Norma was married to Cecil Trickey and together they raised five children. During this time they lived in many places including Evaro, Seeley Lake and Arlee until the time of her death.

Norma was preceded in death by her parents, Dale and Faye Thornburg; brother, Robert 'Bob'; son, Robert Leroy; and granddaughter, Leila.

She is survived by her loving husband of 66 and a half years, Cecil, and their four daughers, Pat (Dale) Farrar, Judi (Jesse) Best, Susan (Bruce) Carpenter and Sharon Trickey. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Robert (BT), Annette and Tony, Jimmy, Lora, BC, Wanda, Rick, Gail, Jesse (JJ), Jim, John, Brandt, Blaine, Kim, Brandi, Tina, Shantell, Cecil, Sam, Wenzday; and numerous great-grandchildren and great great-grandchildren.

Family services were held on Friday January 4, 2013. Graveside services were in Ronan.

Karola "BabyGirl" J. ArrowTopKnot WhiteGrass
BROWNING — Karola "BabyGirl" J. ArrowTopKnot WhiteGrass, 81, of Starr School, passed from this life on January 28, 2013, in Browning of natural causes.

Karola was born January 19,1932, to Joseph and Cecile ArrowTopKnot, in Browning. She was the oldest child of 13, her brother and sisters included; Katrina Running Rabbit, Celeste "Buckwheat" ArrowTopKnot, Sylvester "Suckatoe" ArrowTopKnot, Johny WeaselTail, Gary "Stuss" Grant, Shirley "Curly" Running Crane, Gabriel "Sam" Grant, William "Poly" Grant, Bernadette "Marie" Everyone Talks About", Linda Grant, Ernest "Snake" BearPaw, and Elden DogTakingGun.

Karola grew up in Starr School and Cut Bank Creek. She attended elementary in Starr School and high school in Busby.

On a visit home, Karola met Clarence George WhiteGrass while on a horseback ride. They married on April 4, 1947. After Clarence finished his Army Service, they briefly relocated to California and then Washington. They eventually made their home in Starr School and raised their family. Their children include Evette Reed, Tyrone WhiteGrass, Cheryl Bear Medicine, Karen Belcourt, Clarence "Smokey" WhiteGrass Jr., Debbie WhiteGrass BullShoe, Annette WhiteGrass BullShoe, Faron WhiteGrass, and Memory Kittson.

Karola was a noted singer, dancer and guitarist. She performed at various events and was often accompanied by her husband, who played the fiddle while she sang. She also did volunteer work in her community. She took great joy in her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extended family and friends. She was a constant presence at family cookouts, holidays, celebrations, outings and activities. She liked to cook, often being called on for advice and family recipes.

Karola was proceeded in death by her husband, Clarence G. WhiteGrass; her daughter, Karen Belcourt; and her son, Clarence "Smokey" WhiteGrass. She is survived by her sons, daughters, numerous grandchildren and great- grandchildren, brothers and sisters and many extended relations whom she all loved dearly.

A wake was held at the Starr School Gym January 30. Rosaries were held on Friday, February 1, funeral and Mass services were held Saturday, February 2, 2013, at the Starr School Gym. Burial followed at the White Grass Cemetery.

Michael Richard Kuntz
CHARLO — Michael Richard Kuntz, 67, passed away Tuesday, January 22, in Missoula. Born August 21, 1945, in Ronan to Henry and Myrle (Madison) Kuntz, he was raised in Twin Bridges at the Montana Children's Center. A very private person most of his life, he loved to travel. He had been a trucker, worked for carnivals, a mechanic, and a tinkerer when ever possible. He also enjoyed fishing, writing science fiction stories, singing, and playing guitar.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Michael; great-grandson, Cylus Dentler; and nephew, PJ Incashola.

Survivors include his companion of 24 years, Barbara Incashola, of Missoula; children, Michael, of Las Vegas, Lillian, of Auburn, Washington, and Sally Cook, of Polson; stepchildren, Joseph Perez and Damon Incashola; sister, Dorothy Kuntz, of Moiese; and brother, Ed Kuntz, of Germany; half-brothers and sisters, Pete Kuntz, of Moiese, Carl Kuntz, of Moiese, Janet Kuntz, of Shelby and Nettie Ott, of Polson; his stepmother, Jeanette Kuntz, of Moiese; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; as well as nieces, nephews, and extended family.

Kenyan Francis Mad Plume
CUT BANK — Kenyan Francis Mad Plume, 7-month-old infant, died from complications of meningitis Saturday, Jan. 26, in Spokane.

He and his twin brother, Mayson, were born May 26, 2012, in Browning, to Mary Old Chief and Peter Mad Plume.

As an angel, he will be greeted in heaven by his uncle, David Redhead; and grandmother Faye Old Chief.

He leaves behind his parents, Mary Old Chief and Peter Mad Plume; his siblings, Alaina Mad Plume, Skylar Old Chief, Krissy Mad Plume, Jeremy H. Mad Plume, Cameron Mad Plume, Colby Mad Plume and twin brother, Mayson; his grandparents, Howard Old Chief, Shirley M. Racine and Peter F. Mad Plume Jr; a special uncle, Wylie Wells; and a large extended family on the Blackfeet Reservation.

A wake was held at Glacier Homes Community Center in Browning. Burial followed in the Willow Creek Cemetery.

Condolences may be posted online at

Larry John Gariepy
ST. IGNATIUS – Larry John Gariepy, 77, passed away Thursday, January 17, 2013, at St. Luke Hospital. Larry was born October 17, 1935, to Fred and Gertrude Gariepy in Richey. Larry moved to Havre at the age of 9. He moved to Ronan at the age of 10, and finally settled down in St. Ignatius

Larry graduated from school in 1954, and was drafted into the Army. He was a combat engineer for 2 years and served in the Korean War. After the service, he worked for the Callahan’s on their potato farm for a couple years. He went to work at the Elkhorn Lumber Mill, in Missoula, for many years until they sold the company. He worked for Joe Fearon at the mortuary and ambulance service. He was an ambulance driver for 35 years and a volunteer for the fire department for 20 years. He also was a volunteer for Lake County Search and Rescue. He worked for Joe’s Smoke Ring and Joe’s Jiffy Stop for many years. He also delivered the Missoulian.

In June of 1967, he married his little bride Letty, aka (Petie). From this marriage he had three daughters who he spoiled very much and who loved him to the moon and back.

He is preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Pete and Steven; sisters, Sharon and Mary; niece, Cheryl (Sparrow); and also a great niece, Dawn.

He is survived by his loving wife, Petie; daughters, Shaunda (Pete) and her family, Billie (Tyler) and her family, and his lil bug Heather (Matt) and her family; and 20 grandchildren. He is also survived by his partners-in-crime and best friends, Ed and Sylvia Miller.

A visitation was held Sunday, January 20, at the St. Ignatius Catholic Mission. A rosary took place that night at the Catholic Mission. Mass was held Monday, January 21, at the Catholic Mission with Father Drew Maddock presiding. Burial took place following the service at St. Ignatius Catholic Cemetery with military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the St. Ignatius Fire Department. Messages of condolences may be shared with the family online at

Opal Swaney Cajune
RONAN — A brilliant light has left the world. On January 13, 2013, Opal Swaney Cajune, 86, of Ronan, passed away at her home surrounded by loved ones, songs, and prayers.

Opal was the fifth of seven children born to James Swaney and Mary Catherine McDonald on October 6, 1926. She attended school in Dixon and the Ursuline Boarding School at St. Ignatius, graduating from Dixon High School.

She was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CS&KT). She started a career in Indian affairs working for the Tribal Council by taking Tribal Council meeting minutes in the late 1930s. She provided secretarial services to the tribal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Opal was working for the BIA when she had the opportunity to attend college. She was planning to work with children and began an elementary education program at the University of Montana. During her academic program, she was persuaded to pursue a social work degree. This change marked the beginning of decades of advocacy for children, their families, and for social justice.

Opal directed and conducted the research of social services as provided by the BIA, on the Flathead Indian Reservation. This research included evaluating the status and well being of Indian children in the foster care and adoption system. Her report was utilized to present testimony to the CS&KT Council of the need to establish a tribal social services system. Opal remarked at a public gathering that convincing the council was “not a slam dunk” and that she impressed upon the council representatives that it was also a sovereignty issue. Opal told the council “you know how many fish and deer and elk you have, but you don’t know where your tribal children are who have been lost in the BIA social services system.” Ultimately, the tribes contracted the social services program from the BIA, becoming the first tribal social service program in the region. Opal was the director of this program for eight years, during which she continued to face battles to run the program in the best interest of children.

After Opal’s retirement, people continued to look to her for advocacy, information, and support. She was known to be an expert on the Indian Child Welfare Act and was often called upon as an expert witness. Her concern for the welfare of children did not cease with her employment and she persisted in caring for children within her own family and the community.

Opal was a woman of great vision, compassion, generosity, and spirituality. In her later years, her deep and abiding faith sustained her through difficult times of loss and challenge. Her particular worry and concern was the spiritual poverty she perceived in the community and among young people. She often reminded young people that they were spiritual beings. It was her hope for the younger generations to discover this and find the spiritual strength to become good human beings. Opal seemed to have an endless capacity for love and that was perhaps her greatest gift to those fortunate enough to have known her.

The other great love of Opal’s life was the Flathead River. She grew up on the river by Dixon and learned to swim there. If she could choose a place to be it would be the river, or her other favorite swimming spot at Blue Bay.

She was preceded in death by her parents, James and Mary McDonald Swaney; her brothers, Jay, Emory (Doogie), Bill, and Thomas (Bearhead); and her sisters, Doris (who died as a young child) and Eileen Swaney Decker.

She is survived by her six daughters, Mary Sue Ross, Luana Ross (Daniel Hart), Kathy Ross, Duretta Billedeaux, Ramona Cajune, and Julie Cajune; her grandchildren, Paul Ross, Lucy Cruz, Shane Ross, Damon Hart, Ann-Marie Matt, Rose Matt, Naomi Billedeaux, Adrianna Fehrs, AJ Matt, Jeremy Cajune, Bethany Cajune, Jacob Buck, Derek Holt, and Sarah Holt Bennett. She is also survived by thirty-two great-grandchildren and seven great great-grandchildren.

A wake was held for Opal on January 15 and 16, at the home of Opal’s niece and nephew, Patty and Willie Stevens, in St. Ignatius. The first day of the wake was reserved for family members only. Funeral services will be at the Post Creek Methodist Church on January 17, beginning at 11 a.m. Burial services will be held at the family cemetery at the Decker Ranch in St. Ignatius immediately following the funeral service. A meal will then be served at the Methodist Church.

Francis (Frank Sheepe) Weaselhead
SUMPTER , OR —Francis (Frank Sheepe) Weaselhead, 66, joined his wife, Night Wind, into the spiritual world on January 6.

Sheepe was born to Joseph and Madeline Weaselhead on May 4, 1946, in St. Ignatius. Sheepe attended school in St. Ignatius and graduated from Flandreau Indian High School and was drafted into the Army serving two years in the Vietnam War. After serving his country, Sheepe returned home before moving to Reno, Nevada, where he met the love of his life, Beverly; he renamed her Night Wind. They were together over 43 years. Night Wind passed away a year and a half ago.

Frank and Night Wind made their home first in Granite, Oregon, and then in Sumpter, Oregon, where they leave behind many good friends, especially Jody Thompson.

Preceding Frank and Night Wind are his parents, Joe and Madeline; sisters, Stella and Jo Ann Hammer; and brothers, Marvin, Leslie, and Allan Weaselhead.

Survivors include his sisters, Betty, Madeline, and Violet; brothers, Joe, John, Ronnie, Arnold, Dalon, Gerald, and Tony; and Cocoa, his faithful cat.

A memorial service with Military Honors will be held in St. Ignatius at the Longhouse at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 19. Condolences may be left at