Regina was born December 4, 1932, in Arlee on The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation to her parents, Pete and Mary Pierre. Regina Pierre Cooper took her final journey on August 13, 2019, at her home in rural Sturgis, SD, at the age of 89 years.
Regina was an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes located in northwestern Montana. She grew up surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, experiencing the pristine wildness of remote areas of nature and wildlife. This helped shape and focus her path in life. Her mother and father lived in cultural and traditional ways, hunting, tanning hides for clothing, preparing traditional foods, working with horses, and speaking their native language.
Regina was a strong, vibrant, and independent woman who, at a very young age, pursued her dream of being a professional trick roper and becoming very proficient at this skill with hard work and determination. In her teenage years, she traveled to rodeos across the country performing trick roping and trick riding, even appearing at the Cow Palace in New York City with famous rodeo personalities and contestants. During these times she met and married Malcom “Bud” Cooper from Sturgis, SD, himself being a saddle bronc and all-around rodeo contestant and she was trick roping and trick riding. She became a part of his rodeo producing and stock contracting business, The Rafter L Rodeo Ranch.
Regina continued to perform her trick roping act for the Rafter L Rodeo Ranch rodeos and was also the rodeo secretary and bookkeeper for the ranch and rodeo business. Bud and Regina bred and raised what were to become world champion bucking horses including the champion saddle bronc mare, Deep Water, but their horses and breeding program were eventually sold to Sutton Rodeos in the 1980’s.
Bud and Regina lived on their ranch beside the Belle Fourche River, 25 miles east of Sturgis, and three of their children were born at this time, Mary, Merman, and John. When these children were approaching school age, Regina and Bud bought an acreage closer to Sturgis. Their fourth child, Mike, was born during this time. Regina lived out the rest of her life on this ranch among the large, old, cottonwood trees, rolling hills, and beautiful views of Bear Butte and the Black Hills.
Regina was an active member of the community, volunteering for the Meade County Democrat Party, being a den mother for Girl Scouts, and was a devout member of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Regina and her daughter, Merman, had a small cow/calf operation together for many years where Regina enjoyed herding the cattle, fixing fence, helping with branding, winter-feeding, and general cattle chores. She was a hard worker and could fix fence all day and then go in the house and cook dinner for all her family. She was a wonderful cook even though she would never say this was so, being a humble person.
Regina was a seamstress and designed and sewed all her own trick roping outfits. She also designed and sewed shirts for rodeo employees such as the pick-up men, matching them to the horses they would be riding. She was a gentle and caring mother and sewed many outfits and dresses for her elementary-school-age children. She would help and participate in any sports that her children were active in and was very happy being there to support them.
Regina enjoyed horse racing, rodeos, powwows, motocross racing, and had a special love for stock car racing. The Black Hills Speedway was one of her favorite places. She loved riding on her 4-wheeler wherever it took her, whether it was checking pasture, cows, or just enjoying the beautiful world that she lived in. She was proud of her Native American heritage and supported Native American rights.
She honored her relatives, all life and creation, all the animal nations, but she especially honored and loved the horse nation. Regina honored the land and loved the ranch along the Belle Fourche River with all her heart. She loved her small ranch in the shadow of Bear Butte and was so very happy there. She will be missed immensely.
Regina is survived by her children: daughter, Merman (C. Last Horse); sons, John Cooper and Mike Cooper; her sister, Frances Pierre; her grandsons; Josh Cooper and Miles Cooper; her granddaughters, Jena and Kelli (Cooper), and Ellishiann Last Horse; several great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Regina was preceded in death by her parents, Pete and Mary (Moss) Pierre; spouse, Malcom “Bud” Cooper; daughter, Mary Frances Cooper; brothers, Ike Pierre, Peter Pierre, Leonard Pierre, and Dave “Chub” Pierre; and sisters, “Sissy” Matt, and “Millie” Beason.
Visitation will be Monday, August 19, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 20, 2019, at St. Martin’s Chapel in Sturgis with Father Timothy Castor officiating. Inurnment will be at a later date.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.