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Obituary - Nathaniel Rick St. Pierre, Ph.D.


August 17, 2017

Courtesy photo

Nathanial St. Pierre

Dr. Nathaniel Rick St. Pierre passed away peacefully at his home in Butler Coulee Aug. 13, 2017, after a courageous battle with cancer.

It was his wish to be at home these past several days, where family and friends had spent time with him.

Nate was born Dec. 28, 1962, in Fort Belknap, Montana, to Roger St. Pierre Sr. and Gloria Henderson, he was their second child. He was lovingly given the nickname "Punkin" by his family. Dr. St. Pierre was bestowed the Indian name "KI NOH WAH PAHMISK," meaning "The Creator Looks Upon Him."

As the middle of three brothers, Nate was always quick to volunteer, or be volunteered, to try some of the adventurous feats, as only three young boys could dream up. A couple of the most memorable exploits that always drew a chuckle included teasing the neighborhood bully - Peaches - from our balcony as young elementary school children in St. Paul-Minneapolis. Incidentally, that same 18' high balcony served as Nate's one and only attempt at mountain climbing using a small cotton rope, unfortunately our climber fell when our rope broke from about 12' in the air. Of course, Mom was never told about that adventure. One other highlight was the only opportunity that the three brothers had playing on the same athletic team. Nate was the second baseman on the Phillips 66 baseball team in the early 1970s that went undefeated that year winning the Bozeman city little league title.

Nate was proud to regularly discuss his enjoyment of firefighting and his work with the forest service in the Gallatin National Forest and other areas. He had a great number of stories related to his times as a wild land firefighter, which were sure to bring smiles to his audience. He always talked about the great Yellowstone Fire of 1988 and his work on that fire, which served as an inspiration for a piece of artwork completed by his niece Kalya. He was also a devoted fan of Hells Bells, a female tribute band to AC/DC, and had travelled to various areas of the country to see them. One of Nate's latest hobbies and interest was collecting antique furniture and Native American pieces at auctions. He had accumulated quite a varied selection of furniture and also added to his lifelong collection of Native American art. Nate spent time as a jeweler in his teens, where he learned the basics of silversmith work and developing an interest in genuine Native American southwest jewelry.

Nate was currently serving as the fifth president of Stone Child College in Rocky Boy and held that position for the past several years. As president, he also served on the Tribal College Presidents Council, on the American Indian College Fund Board of Directors, vice-chair of the AIHEC board, and as a member of the Northwest Colleges and University Accreditation Team. His professional career spanned over three decades and always focused on education. He spent many years at Montana State University in the Office of Tribal Services and was a part-time instructor in the Native American Studies Department. He remains one of a small group of Chippewa Cree tribal members achieving a doctorate degree; his was in adult and higher education. His ongoing passion for learning was instilled in him by his parents, and he continued to be a vocal advocate for Indian education. He was also a successful grant writer at many levels and was quite successful in obtaining funding. It was his dream to move Stone Child into the next stage of development by offering four-year degrees and maintaining a sound, steady student enrollment, while keeping the educational and training needs of the Rocky Boy community a priority. Dr. St. Pierre had many visions, skills and ideas that would benefit educational opportunities and quality for Native American students and hopefully his visions will be carried forward.

Dr. St. Pierre received three post-secondary degrees, all from Montana State University in Bozeman. His bachelor's degree was in marketing and management and both master's and educational doctorate degrees were in adult and higher education. One of the fondest and everlasting memories was the dedication of his master's degree to his niece, Kristie, for whom he drew inspiration and persevered to overcome many obstacles to earn the degree. He made Bozeman his home for over 20 years, then spent time working in Spokane and Pullman, Washington, before returning to Rocky Boy.

Dr. St. Pierre was a traditional person and practiced the customs, culture and traditions of the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Roger and Gloria; brother Guy; maternal grandparents, Joseph and Mary Jane Henderson; paternal grandparents, Albert and Margaret St. Pierre; uncles Albert, Joey, Lenno, Yul and Henry; and aunts Harriet, Alberta and Donna.

Nate was very humbled and honored by the numerous recognition and awards received for his many professional accomplishments, but none could compare to the joy and love he felt for his daughters Natasha and Christine, as well as his grandson, Donovan. They were his inspiration for all he did and was most proud of the title, DAD.

Dr. St. Pierre is survived by his daughters, Natasha (Rich) of Havre and Christine of Fort Hall, Idaho; grandson, Donovan; brothers, Roger Jr. (Donna) and Voyd (Margaret); sisters, Stefanie (Terry) Kujaczynski, LaCrissa, Brooke and Brittany; and numerous aunts, uncles, and relatives.

A traditional wake and funeral service were conducted in his honor at the Rocky Boy Catholic Church in Rocky Boy this past week and Nate was laid to rest next to his father, as he requested, on St. Pierre Ridge.

Holland & Bonine Funeral Home was entrusted with the arrangements.


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