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Obituary - Joseph Big Knife Eagle That Is Spotted Ki-i-w Kah-mah-si-nah-so-t


December 26, 2018

Joe Big Knife

Joe Big Knife, lifelong cowboy, father, leader, 85 years old, died from natural causes at his home on Sweetgrass Road surrounded by family on Monday, December 24, 2018.

Joe was born in Beaver Creek to Big Knife and Flora Stump in the summer of 1933. He left grade school to begin learning ranch hand skills. Joe married Roberta Jean Flying on December 15, 1959. Soon after, he joined Art Rambo's operation in Gildford and learned farming techniques, while fostering a great friendship with the Rambo family.

Joe was raised traditional, active in cultural ceremonies, Sun Dance, an avid chicken dancer, and a member of the Haystack Ramblers. Once his own family was started, he moved back to Rocky Boy to begin his own ranch operation. Joe was not idle - he held two, sometimes three jobs, all while ranching. Throughout his life, he worked as a propane delivery driver, carpenter, septic truck operator, janitor, school bus driver, truancy officer, and Cree teacher. In fact, he was given an honorary degree in Cree from Stone Child College. Joe served two terms on the Chippewa Cree Business Council, and recently retired from Rocky Boy Public Schools in 2016.

Joe was a natural-born leader, and became involved in serving our community on boards such as Housing Authority, Dry Fork Farms, Hill County Conservation District, and Cattleman's Association, as well as being active in youth activities and clubs. He served for many years as a 4-H leader. He belonged to the American Quarter Horse Association and raised many top-quality horses for work and pleasure. His favorite job he loved was horse trader, and he spent many summers at the Billings Livestock sales. He was a long time rodeo competitor as a calf roper, team roper and bull dogger. He competed in Indian Rodeo, Northern Rodeo Association, and PRCA, travelling with his rope horse Dutch, who he trained himself and refused to sell.

Joe had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and had Christian fellowship with many of the clergy from all churches on the Rocky Boy Reservation and abroad. He never hesitated to profess his faith or say a prayer when needed. Many youth in high school can recall him and Mr. Antonich saying a daily prayer. He had a close relationship with Father Pete, spending time visiting, praying and reflecting on life.

Joe is survived by his wife, Roberta; children Taylor, Charlene, Charlotte, Ace and Jade Big Knife, all of Rocky Boy, Shawn (Tami) Big Knife of Madras, OR, Shelley Viall and Kyra Big Knife of Havre, MT, and Lanaya (Chase) Muldoon of Aberdeen, SD; adopted sons, Kenneth "Tuffy" (DaLee) Helgeson, Lodge Pole, MT, Jack (Tami) Nystrom, Havre, Wes (Veronica) Cochran, Fort Belknap, MT, and Scott (Dana) Seidel, Havre; 21 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; siblings Sky Child Big Knife of Lander, WY, Alice Big Knife of Lame Deer, MT, and Minnie and Evelyn Big Knife of Rocky Boy, MT; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents; sisters Dorothy and Ruby Big Knife, Mary Merasty and Jean Hobbs; brother, John Big Knife; daughters Sara Rachelle and Jennifer Big Knife; and son-in-law John Viall.

Wake services began Monday and continued until his traditional funeral service, which was at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 25, 2018, all at the Rocky Boy Senior Center. Burial followed in the Big Knife Family Cemetery.

Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with services and arrangements.

Please visit Joe's online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for his family at http://www.hollandbonine.com/.


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