Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

For the Record
March 2015

Clifford Tom Duran Jr.
HOT SPRINGS — Tommy was born January 16, 1958, in Fort Belknap and passed Monday, March 2, 2015. Due to complications with cancer, he made his final journey at Community Medical Center in Missoula at 6:30 p.m.

Clifford Tom Duran, Jr., was brought into this world by his mother, Sharon Winona Salois Duran, and father, Clifford Tom Duran, Sr. Tommy is a proud member of the Flathead Nation and equally proud of his father's nation, the Chippewa Cree Tribe, at Rocky Boy.

Tommy was preceded in death by his mother in 1966, his father in 2013, and grandson, Jadace, in 2006. He is survived by his children, John Tom, of Ronan, Alicia, of Ronan, Sonia, of Ronan, Clayton, of Ronan, and T.J., Mike-Mike and Desiree, of Polson; sister, Cheryl Dean Dupuis; brother, William Hull; sisters, Colleen, of Browning, Robin, of Rocky Boy, Rhonda, of Browning, Riki, of Rocky Boy, and Karla, of Tsuutina Reserve, Alberta; stepmother, Doris Trombley-Duran, of Browning; Pam Bradley, his loving companion for many years; and many more grandchildren. He is also survived by his loving aunt, Duretta Salois Billedeaux, of Hot Springs; uncles, Garry W.”Bear” Salois, of Ronan, and Britton Salois, of Pablo; and all of his nieces, nephews and first cousins, too numerous to list.

Tommy loved to follow his traditional ways. He was a traditional dancer at powwows and never missed a chance for a stick game. He also loved to fly fish and go hunting with his many cousins. Tommy has many relatives on the Flathead Reservation, as he is descended from the Finley-Matt clan with numerous family ties to the Canadian Solways of Siksika, Alberta, the Holloways and Scotts of Brocket, Alberta, the Solways and Swans of Cold Lake, Alberta, the Saloises, of Browning, and many more relatives at Rocky Boy. A large family indeed. Jocko Finlay, William Boushie (Boucher), Abraham Salois, Louie Matt, Therese Killed in the Lodge Matt, William Eli Matt, Alice Matt Salois, Steve Salois, Leo Duran Sr., Maggie St. Marks Matt, Fred Nault, Louise Boushie, Salomon “Sam” Salois, Mary Therese Finley, Baptiste Matt and Domnick Finlay; as some ancestral names. May you rest well in the creator's arms, Tommy!

A wake began Tuesday, March 3, at the Longhouse in St. Ignatius, with rosary recited at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Wake closing was at 10 a.m. on Thursday, in the Longhouse followed with Mass at the St. Ignatius Catholic Church. Interment took place at the Ronan Cemetery following the services.

Dale Leroy Teigen
RONAN — Dale Leroy Teigen, 64, passed away at his home on March 5, 2015.

Born in Eureka to Oswald and Dorothy Pearl (Wilson) Teigen, he served in the Air Force. He then returned to the Mission Valley and made it his home.

Dale was preceded in death by his parents; granddaughter, Zariah; sister, Helen; brother, Gene; and brother-in-laws, Fred and Roger.

He is survived by his children, Shanell (Kevin Thomas), Justin “JC”, and Curstin “CJ”; siblings, Patricia, Bill (Marge), Rita, Cliff (Alvina), Shirley, Alice “Blackie” (Paul), and Dorothy; half-sister, Helen Homand; grandchildren, Tomie, Tyrel, Tlesa, and Prestin; as well numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

As per his request no formal services are planned. Condolences may be left at

Evelyn Stevenson
RONAN — Evelyn “Evie” Stevenson passed away peacefully at St. Luke’s Hospital with family by her side, on March 12, 2015, after dealing with various health problems over the years. She was born March 24, 1939 to Bill and Eva Matt Case in Blue Bay, Montana, where her folks were living at the time. Her dad worked for the Forest Service then, and worked a number of ranching and farming jobs over the years, as well. Her mother stayed at home to raise the family, and was known for her excellent cooking skills, which she handed down to her daughter. Both of her parents loved the outdoors, and Evie grew up hiking, fishing, and picking huckleberries in the mountains.

Early in life, at the age of 4, Evie experienced an unusual illness that kept her in and out of the Spokane Hospital for over a year, nearly 200 miles away.She fully recovered and her family moved to a farm that she loved. She attended a one room school-house with 8 students, and ran with her dog, Tippy, in the hills. When she was 12, her father became ill for several months, and she ended up running the farm while her mother cooked for the crews and cared for her younger brother, George. She had to drive the big truck to the grain elevator after obtaining an emergency license. They had to cut out part of the dashboard so she could see to drive, and added extenders to the foot pedals. Her mother told of how this small little girl was out in the field organizing field hands and the thrashing crews like a seasoned farmer. She said, “In the beginning, they all just ignored Evie, but after a short time, when Evie gave directions, they quickly followed.”

In 1960, she married Dan Stevenson while working at Boeing in Seattle, and they traveled extensively with the aircraft industry. She still managed to go home to the Reservation almost every summer. They had two children, Tisa and Craig, whom they adored. Although they divorced after 17 years, they remained great friends always. Dan says he was inspired by Evelyn, and when he was 50 he went to law school at the University of Montana. Her children also chose careers working and serving Native people and communities.

While raising a young family in San Francisco, Evelyn was very active in the Civil Rights Movement and American Indian causes. She was involved in the “Alcatraz Occupation” in the early 1970’s. She went to the island almost daily in a row boat for six months. She decided to become an attorney, and after finishing her undergraduate degree, she attended Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco. She brought Craig and Tisa to school with her at night, and the whole family read her the quizzes from her books. Somehow she still managed to make wonderful dinners and found time for family time. She began working with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Tribal Court System in the summer of 1974 after Tribal Sovereignty became more of a goal upon enactment of the Indian Education and Self Determination Act. Together with Judges Donny Dupuis and Louise Burke, and other pioneering warriors of that time, they began building a modern, sophisticated Tribal Court System. They provided the first Prosecutor, the first Tribal Advocate Program and Court Advisor. Everyone wore many hats and the system worked on integrity.

Evelyn and her dear friend, Kathleen Fleury, were the first Indian women to pass the Montana Bar, and Evelyn became the first in-house legal counsel, engaged in all aspects of law. During her first year with the Tribes, she spent the winter in Washington, D.C. learning of the past litigation and Court of Claim cases that large firms had previously handled. Those law firms were no longer prepared to deal with the greatly expanded tribal government. The Tribes were becoming prepared to stand on their own, supporting their ancestors’ wishes in becoming a sovereign nation. She flew back and forth so she could still attend family activities. People joked that she could have lunch with the President, afternoon pie and coffee with a homeless person, and then tuck her kids into bed late that night across the country.

Evelyn, along with several other very dedicated individuals, was instrumental in the effort to help win the eight-year legal battle to prevent a hydroelectric project at Kootenai Falls. This was a sacred site for the Kootenai people, off the Reservation. Evelyn always said, “This was a great victory”. In fact, it was unprecedented. At no other time in U.S. history had a large scale construction project been halted through litigation. She was always humble about things, and this was probably the first time that her children realized that their mom was pretty amazing as they watched her on television, refusing to back down to her adversaries.

Evelyn worked with other attorneys back East in developing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. She gives credit elsewhere for the actual writing of the act. However, she fiercely defended the law with an unrivaled devotion and dedication. She rarely lost in court. One day she stated her advantage. “My opponents were fighting for a paycheck, and I was fighting for my family.” That federal law became her lifelong passion, designed to hopefully avoid further destruction of the American Indian family. She became a nationally recognized expert on the subject, and even during various hospitalizations up until a few months ago, she would receive calls from attorneys and judges around the country. She was known to drive in her little camper or fly across the U.S. in order to attend court sessions or to visit children from the Tribe, even after requiring oxygen.

In 1979, she was severely burned in a gasoline explosion while burning brush for her small log home on Finley Point. Although they tried to airlift her to a burn center, she refused to leave the Reservation. She had finally moved back home permanently, and wanted to be close to traditional healers and her friends and family. They set up a makeshift burn unit in the Polson hospital and she recovered beautifully. Healing took months, but the traditional healers visited her daily. She had extensive superficial and inhalation burns but did not have much scarring, which surprised all of the specialists. She conducted business from her hospital bed, covered in bandages, with people lined up down the hall, praying and singing for her.

One of Evelyn’s greatest experiences was a sabbatical in New Zealand, where Evelyn was invited to speak at seminars with the Maori people in order to assist them in developing something similar to the Indian Child Welfare Act, as they too faced the destruction of their families. She said the cultural exchanges were invaluable. She later went back with her attorney-friend, Virginia, to visit the many wonderful people she had met.

Her second sabbatical was a trip around the country visiting with other tribal nations. She toured the U.S. in her “one-woman-and-a- dog camper.” Everything in life was another adventure for Evie.

Evelyn was active in several organizations and received more awards than we can even name. For years she has been involved with the Native American Rights Fund on the Board of Directors, Tribal Law and Policy Board of Directors, the MT ACLU, and the Mission Valley Animal Shelter Board. She also served on the advisory board for the CASA program, as well as the National Indian Justice Center. She was appointed by two Governors for the Montana Human Rights Commission for 12 years. She also helped with the local stock car race track for many years. She loved the races, and even drove to some Nascar tracks in her camper. At the Mission Valley Speedway, the announcer was known to see her walk in, carrying her oxygen tank, and would say, “OK, we can start now…Evelyn is here.”

Before she died, Evelyn’s family asked her about the messages she wished to convey upon her death. She wrote much of this obituary, although she left out the compliments to herself. It was very important to her that others know how much she truly enjoyed working with so many wonderful people over the years. She seemed to see the best in everyone. We have often heard of stories from people that attribute Evelyn with their sobriety or their ability to get things back on track, to save their family. One man a few days ago spoke of Evelyn and Tribal Judge Louise coming to rescue him in jail in Spokane after some old charges surfaced. I asked if he considered escaping, and he said, “Are you kidding? From Evelyn and Louise?” Anyone who knew them would know what he meant. If they asked for someone’s word, that was usually enough.

Evie has kept track of the children and families long after the cases she handled were completed. Some of the people she recently helped are grandparents now trying to keep their families together, and these grandparents were sometimes the children from cases long ago. She conducted unofficial business in her nightgown at the kitchen table, and it was only a few weeks ago when she had to finally tell people that her health no longer allowed her to help with their cases.

It was important to Evie to stay in her home as long as she could, in spite of her health problems. There are simply too many people to name who helped to make that possible.

Whenever she was asked about her greatest accomplishment, she always said, “No accomplishment in life could ever be as meaningful as raising my two children.” Her children could not have asked for a better mother. Those who knew Evelyn knew that she was a mother to many others, as well. She loved her extended family dearly, and had the kinds of friendships in life that many only dream of having. She will be greatly missed.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and her infant daughter, Renee; as well as many dear relatives and friends.

She is survived by her daughter, Tisa Newton (Patrick), and grandsons, Thomas Pablo and Braiden Newton; son, Craig Stevenson (Kara Sharai), and grandson, Finley Stevenson; her brother, George Case (Jean), and their daughters, Rebecca Woodbury (Brian), and baby Levi, and Rachelle Case; and former husband, Dan Stevenson (Pam), and their son, Tyler. She is also survived by many other relatives and wonderful friends, too numerous to name. Special thanks to the entire Hardy family, especially her cousin and scrabble buddy, Linda Hardy; cousin, Rene Dubay; the St. Luke’s Hospital, along with Lake County Hospice, all provided outstanding and loving care to our mama, and made it possible for us to help her along on her journey with dignity.

The Lake Funeral Home (Grogan’s) handled the arrangements. Traditional wake services began on Sunday, March 15, at noon, at the Elmo Community Center. The Rosary was recited there on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Funeral/Mass was held on Monday at 11:00 a.m. in Elmo, followed with the burial at the Ronan Cemetery, 46727 North Foothills Drive.

Memories and condolences may be sent to the funeral home at www.thelakefuneral

Lyla Smyth
ST. IGNATIUS — Lyla Smyth “Sis”, 86, lifetime resident of St. Ignatius, passed away March 10, 2015. The youngest of ten children born to Baptiste and Annie Cote, in St. Ignatius. She attended the Ursuline School, and finished her education at St. Ignatius High School.

A gift that she probably never expected, was about to enter her life. He was a very handsome Lloyd Smyth. Their memories started in high school with dances, sports, and just the likes of their high school years. Lloyd went off to the Navy while Lyla worked at Lake Co. Bank. Upon Lloyd’s return they were married. Lyla’s banking career turned into married life, as Lloyd’s help mate and a mother of five children.

Lyla was preceded in death by her husband, Lloyd; oldest son, Ken Smyth; and granddaughter, Yvonne Michelle.

She is survived by three sons and a daughter, Les Smyth (Carol), of Port Orchard, Washington, George Smyth (Barb), of Columbia Falls, Russell Smyth (Alicia), of St. Ignatius, and Terrie Canfield (Ron), of Stevensville; as well as 15 grandchildren and approximately 39 great grandchildren.

She and Lloyd attended the Christian Church in St. Ignatius for the rest of their years. She has been an inspiration to so many in her community, church and family. She will be greatly missed. Memorials may be sent to Cross Cultural Connection (Ministries), P.O. Box 185, Mattoon, Illinois 61938.

A visitation was held Tuesday at the Foster Funeral Home in St. Ignatius, with funeral services held Wednesday, March 18, at 11:00 a.m. in the St. Ignatius Christian

Betty Lou Samsel
POLSON — Betty Lou Samsel, 82, of Polson, passed away on March 18, 2015 at St. Joseph Hospital, of natural causes. She was born on November 18, 1932 in St. Ignatius to Lawrence and Edith Decker.

Betty attended school in St. Ignatius and was Salutatorian for her Class of 1950. Betty was married 63 years to the love of her life, Hal Samsel. After Hal’s military service in the Marines, they returned to Missoula where they raised their two children, Steve and Sheryl.

After Hal retired from the Smokejumpers, they lived in their home on Flathead Lake, while also wintering in Yuma, Arizona. Betty enjoyed her family and special gatherings at the lake, along with poetry, tending flowers, and bird watching.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents, and her brother, Lyle Decker.

Survivors include her husband, Hal, Polson; her son Steve (Shelley), of Polson; her daughter, Sheryl (Randy) Symon, of Thompson Falls; her grandchildren, Ben Symon, Sara McDonald, Tonnes Olson, Andy Samsel, and Kristine Torgenrud; 12 great grandchildren; her brother, Dale Decker; and sisters, Donna Marks and Ranae Decker.

A celebration of Betty’s life will be held later in the year. Memorials may be made to the charity of your choice. Arrangements are under the direction of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.

Russell Gene Redekop
RONAN — Russell Gene “Russ” Redekop, 54, passed away unexpectedly of natural causes Thursday, March 19, 2015 at his residence in Ronan.

Russ was born October 19, 1960, in Polson, to Dean and Norma Redekop. In 1971 Russ’ father was tragically lost in an auto accident in Idaho. His mother later married Jim Funke, and together they lovingly raised Russ and his four sisters. He grew up in Polson and graduated from Polson High School in 1979. Following graduation Russ enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In March of 1986, Russ married classmate, Nicole Anderson. Their little redheaded boy, Wesley, was born in 1989. Russ and Nicole were later divorced.

Beginning his naval career as a submariner, with his fun sense of adventure and a perpetual twinkle in his eye, Russ was “under way” to see the world! His travels took him far and wide, through the Pacific and Atlantic, and everywhere in between. One of his favorite adventures was randomly running into a hometown friend – a Marine, in tiny remote bar near Manila, in the Philippines. Montana was always “home” to Russ, always returning here while on leave. His duty stations included: San Diego, California, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and New London, Connecticut. Russ finished up his last four years as a Recruit Division Commander for new recruits at Great Lakes Naval Station, North Chicago, Illinois. Russ proudly retired from the Navy in February, 2002 and came home to Montana.

After retirement from the Navy, Russ returned to the Mission Valley and went to work for the family business. Russ made many friends throughout the years, young and old, and he always took time to share a joke and a smile, a tale and a laugh. He was the consummate prankster and joke teller. If there was a deck of cards or a crib game anywhere near, he would usually find it. In May of 2002, Russ met his fiancé, April Rowland. They explored the backroads of western Montana and enjoyed fishing and camping together along with his beloved dog, Riley. Russ was happily surprised in 2009 when his son, Wes, moved to the Mission Valley to be closer to his dad and family.

Russ was preceded in death by his father, Dean H. Redekop; paternal grandparents, Henry and Ann Redekop; maternal grandparents, Elwood “Shorty” and Leota “Dottie” Joy; and infant neice, Amber Luke.

Survivors include his fiance’, April Rowland; son, Wesley Redekop; grandchildren, Liam Redekop and Alice Brooks Redekop; mother and stepfather, Norma and Jim Funke; sisters, Gwen(Greg) Clairmont, Geri (Lloyd) Turnage, Gay(Mike) Speckert, and Genean(Travis) Clairmont. He also leaves behind twelve nieces and nephews, eight great nieces and nephews and a large extended family.

Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, at The Lake Funeral Home in Polson. Cremation has taken place, interment with full military honors followed at the Lakeview Cemetery. A reception followed the services at the Polson VFW, on main street in Polson.

Pallbearers are his nephews, Chris Clairmont, Tom Clairmont, Cory Clairmont, James Turnage Joe Turnage and Daniel Clairmont. Honorary Pallbearers are Dakota Clairmont and Hunter Clairmont.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mission Valley VFW Post, Ronan Beautification Project or the Lake County Animal Shelter. Arrangements are under the direction of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.

Nadine Sharlene Whitworth Clairmont
PABLO — Nadine Sharlene Whitworth Clairmont, 65, went to be with the Creator and loved ones that preceded her, on March 22, in Polson, passing away from natural causes after an extended illness.

She was born March 6, 1950, in St. Ignatius, the daughter of Fred M. Whitworth, Sr. and Harriett (Adams) Whitworth.

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, she grew up in the Valley Creek/Arlee area attending school in Arlee and Dixon, where she graduated from Dixon High School with the class of 1968. She spent her life ranching and had a love of God. She loved studying scriptures, home remedies, animals, nature, berry picking, western movies (John Wayne and Gunsmoke), family and she always put her loved ones' needs ahead of her own.

She was preceded in death by: her parents; son, Shawn; and siblings, Annette and Raymond. She is survived by: her husband, Dennis; son, Henry; daughters, Adele (Jacob) and Elizabeth (Gregory); sisters, Lauraine (George) and Geri; brothers, Floyd (Denise) and Fred, Jr. (Vicki); four grandchildren, Shavonne, Hayden, Serenity Step’eysi, and Jefferson; and two great grandchildren, Kurt, Jr. and Shauntel.

A wake started Monday, March 23, at the Longhouse with the rosary being held Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Longhouse in St. Ignatius. The wake closing started at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, at the Longhouse. Mass followed at 11 a.m. in the St. Ignatius Catholic Mission. She was laid to rest in the Jocko Cemetery near Arlee. Condolences may be left at