Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

For the Record
December 2013

Richard Emanuel 'Dick' Barber
Longtime Alaskan and Kasilof resident Richard Emanuel 'Dick' Barber, 77, passed away Sunday, December 29, 2013, at Kat's Elder Care in Kasilof.

Dick was born April 15, 1936, in St. Ignatius. He grew up in Ronan and was a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He received his Bachelor's in Education from Western Montana College in 1959. He moved to Alaska in 1977 and lived in Venetie, Nome, Anchorage and Kasilof. He was both a teacher and principal, but coaching football, track and basketball were his passions.

Dick enjoyed camping with family and friends, fishing, an occasional game of golf, and watching college and pro football.

Dick's smile will be remembered by many. He was a good natured jokester who loved to make people laugh. Children loved 'Papa Dick' because of his fun and playful personality. Family was very important to him and often said that his father told him, if you could count on one hand friends who have always been there for you, you have led a good life. 'We will treasure memories of camping trips, water fights he started and stories he shared,' his family wrote.

Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Emanuel and Ruby Barber; sisters, Patricia Barber and Sherry Sadler; brother, James Barber; and son, Dick Barber.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Barber, of Kasilof; son, Jimmy Barber, of Portland, Oregon; step-daughter, Deb West, of Port Angeles, Washington; step-son, Mike McConnell of Anchorage; step-daughter, Barbara Caballero, of Kalama, Washington; step-son, Mitch McConnell, of Montesano, Washington; daughters, Brandi Barber and Megan Palagyi, both of Anchorage, Terry Erickson of Missoula, Jeri Norris, of Bozeman, Jodi Walsh, of Missoula, and Staci Flynn, of Missoula; 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sister, Bea Noble; and brothers, Sam, Scott and Tom Barber. Arrangements made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory.

Leland James Hewankorn
RONAN — Leland James “Jimi” Hewankorn, 61, passed away on Monday, December 30, 2013, at St. Patrick Hospital.

He was born on January 14, 1952, in St. Ignatius to Charles and Alice Hewankorn. In his younger years he graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1970, where he was an all-around MVP athlete. He was also a Golden Glove Boxing Champion of North Western Montana. A little later in life, he was a Director for the Indian Alliance Program in Missoula. A man who had a flair for cooking, his culinary talent took him to Las Vegas to work as a chef. He also held various jobs for the tribe for many years, and was currently employed with the Tribal Maintenance Dept.

He was a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and a strong believer in his traditional ways. His passion and love in life was his music. With his music skills, he donated his time to various agencies and groups to raise money for those in need. He was a very generous man. He played with numerous recording artists such as: Faron Young, Johnny Rodriguez, and Boxcar Willie, to name a few. Jimi was well-known all over Indian country for his stickgame skills and notorious boyish humor. He was a true sportsman and enjoyed his time spent in the outdoors. Jimi was a very special man who held many hearts close to his, with a respectful yet, quiet dignity. So, as he leaves us, remember his own last words “Don’t worry about me.”

Leland is preceded in death by his father, Charles Hewankorn; brother, Laverne Hewankorn, Sr.; sister, Linda Rae Hewankorn; nephew, Donald Collins, III; and infant daughter, Karen Sue Hewankorn.

Survivors include Janice Couture, whom he cherished dearly, of Ronan; his mother, Alice Hewankorn, of Niarada; brother, Levi (Bonnie) Hewankorn, of Pablo; sisters, Charlotte Hewankorn, of Polson, and Rosalee Roberson, of Florida; uncle, Walter Matus, of Pablo; four daughters: Candi Rafal, of Oregon, Jami Hewankorn, of Texas, Kim Hewankorn, of Pablo, and Christina Hewankorn; his grandchildren: Rose and Felix Rafal, Elizabeth Majefski, Michael Torres, Adella Ort, Karen Sue Hewankorn, and Kwe’lulexw’ Hewankorn; aunts, uncles, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Traditional wake services Tuesday, December 31, 2013, at the Hall in Elmo, with Rosary on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Burial was held on Thursday January 2, 2013, at 10 a.m. at Dayton Cemetery. Messages of condolence may be sent to

Jacob Buckskin Michel
NOXON — Jacob Buckskin Michel, 21, passed away December 29, 2013, in Noxon, Montana.

Jacob was born July 17, 1992, to Keith Michel, Sr., and Maxine Spotted Blanket-Michel. He graduated from Two Eagle River High School in 2011.

Survivors include his mother, Maxine Esther Spotted Blanket Michel; siblings, Wayne Spotted Blanket, Sonia Spotted Blanket-Duran, Nakita Martin, Ronee Martin, Keith Michel, Jr., Llewellyn Michel, Whisper Michel, Janelle Askin, Lacy Antiste, and Tanya Brueggeman; god parents, Gilly Michel and Vi Shilo; grandmothers, Louise Andrews and Sonia Chippewa; aunts and uncles, Diane Michel, Geneva Glenmore, Jennifer Sansavere, Cindy Martin, Adele Martin, Wilbert Michel, Gilly Michel, Victor Michel, Leonard Michel, Lee Michel, and Mike Spotted Blanket.

Preceded in death by his father, Keith Michel, Sr.; sister, Echo Michel; grandparents, Mathias and Lucy Michel, and Larry Spotted Blanket and Lloyd Chippewa; uncles, Jr. Michel and Larry Lane Spotted Blanket; aunts, Linda Michel and Connie Jean Finley; and cousin, Leo Hammer.

William Robert “Billy Bob” Lafley
ARLEE — William Robert “Billy Bob” Lafley, 52, lost his battle with cancer on Friday, December 27, 2013, in Missoula.

Proud of his Salish ancestry, he was born January 31, 1961, in Polson to Darlene McClure and Robert “June Bug” Lafley. A long time resident of the Arlee area, he worked everywhere from Alaska to California as a firefighter and commercial fisherman.

Billy Bob was a man with a good heart and loved his family and friends, helping them out whenever possible.

He is preceded in death by his father; June Bug; sister, Rene “Baby Girl”; and grandparents, William “Pinto” and Margarete (Charlo) McClure, and Robert Francis and Nina (Gariepy) Lafley.

Survivors who live locally include: his mother, Darlene McClure Lafley, of Arlee; children, Mackie Fisher, Dakota Lafley, Ridge Lafley, Margaret Lafley and James Friberg; two grandchildren; siblings, Roberta “Inj” (Les) Fisher, Leslie Leann (JayBlue) Lafley-Arlee, and Clem Lafley; BillyBob’s ex, Stacey Two Teeth; uncle, Snoose McClure; several aunts; numerous cousins, from Charlo, and McClure families; and countless friends. With special thanks to his hospice nurse, Pam.

Rosary was recited at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Arlee Community Center. A simple closing service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the Community Center.Condolences may be left at

Isiah Peter Matt
PABLO — Isiah Peter Matt, 19, passed away on Monday, December 9, 2013, in Butte, Montana. He was born November 11, 1994, in Missoula, to Tashina DuBray and Richard Matt.

Isiah was the most caring and loving person you could be around. He always wanted to make people happy and would do anything to do so. He always had a smile on his face and was silly, outgoing, funny, yet, so serious, and had so many other great qualities anybody could ask for. Isiah enjoyed many things in life, but it was basketball which captured his heart. He loved to play in basketball tournaments during the summer, hunt, cruise with his friends, listen to music, and most of all, be around family.

He is preceded in death by his father, Richard Matt; great grandparents, Regina and Peter Matt; great grandparent, Wayne Hamel; and uncle, Joe Hamel.

Survivors include his mother, Tashina (Butch) Cleland; three sisters, Alexis Matt, Larissa Matt, and Aspen Cleland; brother, Ronnie Cleland; grandparents, Tammy Hamel, Tony DuBray, Gigi (Junior) Caye, Marcia Cleland, and Jody (Arnold) Irvine; great grandparent, Cathy Hamel; uncles, Jimmy Hamel, Robert Matt, Joseph (Breanne) Caye, Ambrose (Danny) Caye, Gabe Caye, and Mayuk Caye; aunt, Anitra Irvine; cousins, Jordan, Mariah, Malia, Gerald, and Brandlty; girlfriend, Kendall J. Henderson; and numerous other family and friends whom he dearly loved.

A funeral service was held Friday, December 13, 2013, at 10 a.m. at Elmo Hall. Burial took place at Dayton Cemetery. Messages of condolences may be shared with the family online at

Amber Rose Garfield
SEATTLE — Amber Rose Garfield, 34, passed away in Seattle on December 4, 2013. Born to Jean Senecal and Richard Garfield on February 1, 1979, she was raised by Martin Andrew and her mom, Jeanie, in Ronan, where she went to school.

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, she loved the outdoors, traveling to new places, and the excitement of new places and things. An artist and free spirit she many things to her family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her family that helped raise her, Jean Senecal and Martin Andrew, Bernice Senecal, Alfred Senecal, and Max Andrew; brother, Herb Sias; and nephew, TJ Sias.

Survivors include her four children, and April Garfield, Alida Garfield and Joshua Garfield; her birth father, Richard Garfield; and Uncle Ronnie and aunt Lucy.

A wake began Sunday at the Longhouse with prayer services being held at 8 p.m. Monday. Funeral services were held Tuesday at 11 a.m., in the Longhouse with Armand Matt officiating. Interment will follow in Snyelmn Sntmtmne.

The many fond memories of all the things she did with us and for us and the little details that made her so important will stay forever in our hearts.

Condolences may be left at

Rita Joyce Knerr
HOT SPRINGS — On December 10, 2013, Joyce went to a better place to spend eternity with The Lord, and to be reunited with her best friend and life-long companion, her mother, Rita.

Joyce was born September 24, 1950, in St. Ignatius.

Joyce spent many years believing she was loved only by her mother and her cat, but it brings us great comfort to know that in later years, she found that not to be true. Along with finding the Love of Christ, she also found a family of true, caring friends at Hot Springs Bible Church, and through the love of her dearest and loyal friend, Mona, who had been here to help her with her mother's last years and was here for Joyce in so many ways.

We hope you all know how much it meant to Joyce to know how many people cared and how it would brighten her day and help her stay strong in her faith when someone would call or come to see her and pray with her.

We would like to give special thanks to Laura, from Hospice, for bringing Joyce comfort and peace in her final days.

And a special thanks to my wife, Christie, who spent countless hours filling out paperwork and making phone calls trying to get Joyce all the help that was available; and for her unselfish sacrifices, forgoing her own disabilities to help care for Joyce, so I could have time to deal with the rest of life that couldn't be put on hold.

Joyce carried many burdens in her life, both physical and emotional wounds that made it very hard for her to see the happy side of life. We pray that those who so deeply hurt Joyce see the error of their ways and seek forgiveness and realize what they have lost with Joyce's passing.

May God Bless all those in the world who truly care.

Graveside service were held Saturday, December 14, at Lakeview Cemetery in Polson, where she was laid to rest beside here mother and father.

Melvin Running Rabbit
Melvin “Bunny” Running Rabbit, a respected Blackfeet Elder, quietly slipped away on December 14, 2013.

Melvin was born June 26, 1926 to Thomas and Josephine Flattail Running Rabbit on the Blackfeet Reservation. Melvin was raised by Philip and Annie Flattail in Two Medicine, just east of Browning on a ranch.

He worked many years for the Blackfeet Tribe as a sergeant-at-arms and for the Blackfeet Tribal Police as a police officer. Melvin also worked on various construction sites such as the Lower Two Medicine Bridge and the dam northwest of East Glacier. He also attended Flandreau Indian School. Melvin was a well-known stickgame player and participated in many tournaments throughout the last 60 years. He was a member of the Greenwood Burners and Crazy Dogs Societies.

Melvin’s beloved wife of 67 years recently passed away in July 23, 2013. They had three sets of twins, for a total of 14 children.

Proceeding Melvin in death are his sons, Robert, Clyde, Alvin, Kenneth, Vernon and Marvin Running Rabbit. Also preceeding his death are his siblings, Calvin, Alfreda, Thomas Jr., Margaret, Violet, Merlin and Rosemary.

He is survived by his sister, Kathryn (Benny) Sloss; and by daughters, Melveena Malatare, Roberta (James) Arnoux, Irene Running Rabbit, Robin (Ronald) Redhead, Carol (Gordon) Ahenakew, Cheryle (Leonard) Villa; and sons, Calvin Running Rabbit and Darrell (Lolita) Running Rabbit.

Roseries were Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. with funeral services held on Wednesday, December 18, at 2 p.m. at the Little Flower Parish, with Fr. Ed Kohler officiating and burial at the Mission in Two Medicine. The wake was at the College Community Center on Monday, December 16, 2013.