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Rest in Power: Rosanne Headswift March 12, 1947 – January 8, 2021

It’s hard to sort out my grief and disbelief when I learned that such a humble and dedicated servant of the Northern Cheyenne tribe has passed away.

As a Community Health Representative, Rosanne Headswift visited our pharmacy at the IHS Clinic in Lame Deer almost every day to deliver medicine to the elders in the area of the reservation she served. She worked tirelessly and faithfully. She was serious, but cheerful and optimistic. When I remember her I see a smiling face. I thought she was excellent. In those days Lynwood Tallbull directed the CHR program. Five or six–maybe more–men and women took care of vulnerable people in various parts of the reservation. Elders, mostly.

She worked quietly, usually behind the scenes, but what she did was vital to the health of the wisest, oldest, and most loved members of the tribe: the young ones called them grandmothers and grandfathers. Many of the elders lived way out in the country and had limited transportation, so clinic outreach by CHRs like Rosanne was vital.

She is gone way too soon, way too young. A hero to me.

Often I’d see her and her husband, Wayne, at some kind of community event, perhaps a powwow or feast. Rosanne would probably be scurrying about, serving food, or perhaps cooking. Every month at diabetic clinic the tribal health people brought the elders together and the joy would show on their faces when they got to see each other.

Covid-19 is destroying the best of the Northern Cheyenne people.

I found the following obituary for Rosanne on line:

Rosanne Killsnight Headswift (Ho’neheevahtoohe’e) Wolf Howling Woman – left us on January 8th, 2021, due to complications of Covid-19, on her journey of life, back to the place where her departed relatives have gone and will prepare her a place within their heavily household.

She came into the world on March 12th, 1947, at the Holy Rosary Hospital in Miles City, Montana. A child of James Francis Killsnight and Regina Long Roach-Killsnight.

She spent her childhood years in the Killsnight Creek Valley, east of Lame Deer.

Rosanne would always reminisce about playing along the hill ridges and picking juneberries along the creek bottoms. Rest of the time, she grew up in the Lame Deer area. She attended Lame Deer Public School Elementary. One year, she attended Chilocco Indian School, one year at St. Labre Indian Mission School, and two years at the Busby High School, where she graduated in May of 1966. She then graduated from Chief Dull Knife College in May of 1998 with an Associate Degree in Applied Science.

Rosanne began working as a Community Health Worker in April 1969. As years passed, the title of the program was changed to the Community Health Representative (CHR). For some time, she also worked as an Optometry assistant. She then applied for the program director position. She was then selected as a Program Director. She held this position until she became ill with Covid-19.

Rosanne was currently serving on the Board of Trustees for Lame Deer Public Schools and also the Board of Directors for Chief Dull Knife College. She enjoyed being on both boards – she encouraged quality education.

Rosanne was always an avid sports fan, she would watch the L.A. Lakers and the K.U. Jaywalks on T.V. She was also an avid fan of her grandson, Tharyn Headswift, as he played baseball, football, and basketball. She followed him on away games, always taping him on her cellphone. The support became intense when Tharyn began playing High School sports.

One of her hallmarks was helping other people, and constantly giving advice to whomever needed additional help. We are going to miss her frybread, and oven bread. She was usually called upon to make her frybread, and she eagerly obliged.

Rosanne is survived by her husband Wayne, Lew (Carlene), Frank, Langdon, Sonja (Tyrone), and Wally (Diandra) and by Joshua, Gareth, Shanyell, Cianna, Cierra, Abigail, Chloe, Byron, T.J., Shalee, Tharyn, Hayden, Madilynn. And the great grandchildren, Lakel, Amiyah, Adree, Blake, Quintus, Rynleigh, Kaiser, Ansleigh. Survived by brothers Anthony Killsnight Sr, Marcian Killsnight, and sister, Velecia Killsnight. And she leaves numerous nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins, sisters and brothers on the Killsnight and Headswift sides of the family.

She was preceded by sisters, Gertrude, Drucella, and brothers, Xavier, Ferdinand, James Jr.,Clement, and Christopher, and her parents, James Sr. and Regina Killsnight.

Civil War Pistol


Unseasonally warm, dry winter.  I walked Gunther to Mrs. Johnson’s yard, where he dutifully dropped a pair of poops, which I caught with a bagged hand held beneath his little butt.  Mrs. Johnson’s lawn stays pristine, I think. 

“Good boy,” I murmured.  Gunther trotted home.

I noticed Mrs. Johnson’s neighbor’s Trump flag has been removed.  My guess is he’s leery of being blamed for the rioting and insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday.  Or, more likely, the people who live with the Trump supporter are tired of being advertised as fascist.  Or racist. I think about the American Civil War and how it doesn’t seem over yet. My grandfather’s dad was a Civil War veteran.

George G. Struckman lived in Bartlett, Illinois, during the Civil War.  The village president, he organized citizens for a Union military company to fight the confederacy.  Only the Union army officials would not accept his unit, so they all enlisted instead.  George was commissioned a lieutenant by the Governor of Missouri.  He and his men fought the battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas, which was more of a rout than a battle.  Shortly after that, his unit was disbanded and they returned to Illinois.  Civilians again.

I was probably nine or ten years old when my mother decided to show me the “civil war pistol.”  It was great-grandfather’s, and I got to play with it.  Tom made a leather holster for it.  It was too heavy to run around with, and the mainspring that operated the hammer and cylinder was broken.  I took it to school for show and tell.  A fifth grade classmate, Virginia Stewart, took it from my desk and made me chase her around the playground to get it back.  That romance never got far.

That Spring, I enjoyed picking lilacs and leaping ten feet from our back porch roof to the lawn, soon breaking a bone in my foot.  I left a huge bouquet of lilacs on the lawn.

I know.  I think I enjoyed the sensation of sailing through the air. I knew I was hurt, and I couldn’t walk.

I crawled up the cool cement steps from the garage into the house, whimpering and crying in pain.  Mother called Dr. Lowe.

I spent three or four days in the hospital for the swelling to subside before Dr. Lowe put a cast on my leg from toe to knee.  I was out of school the last two weeks of the school year.  Mother brought home my schoolwork and the pistol.  She said Mrs. Jay was disgusted because my desk was a “rat’s nest.” In those days having a real gun (albeit an antique) at school was unremarkable.

I was in agony. Not from pain, but I longed to play outdoors in the warm weather.

Our neighborhood droned with the sound of a lawn mower and I heard shouts of children playing games each evening while I did multiplication and division problems.  I almost always got the wrong answers, and I hated the homework.  My bedroom window was open and the gentle breezes of June with the sweet smell of lilac bushes wafted in. At eight o’clock the sun shone through my window as it set. My brother’s friends trooped through my room to his, remarking how early I had to go to bed.

The Civil War pistol was easy to take apart and put together with a sort of sliding mechanism you could pull out most of the way.  The barrel and charging lever came off, then the cylinder, then the grip and hammer.  Each part had a serial number stamped.  I could take apart the grip and hammer with a screwdriver.  Easy.  Then simple to put back together.  I recall making notches in the wooden grip, and using the pistol to hammer nails when I was too lazy to go to the workbench in the basement.  Luckily the pistol was heavy duty. I chipped a piece of wood from the handle.

In high school I kept the pistol displayed in my room, along with a bunch of magic tricks and handcuffs and other stuff a teenage boy finds compelling.

When our mother died we divided the family heirlooms.  Tom got the pistol.  He took it to a pawnshop and got, like, $50, because he was out of money. He didn’t get the pistol back.

I have a photo I took when I was in high school.

71-year-old tries to write some damn shit.


Two months ago I hired a life coach to guide me to write a piece about the hippie era of my misspent youth.  Three of the most important hipsters died this year, so I’m sad.  It’s hard to lose Jerry Printz, Frank Sonnenberg, and Michael Fiedler.  These join the ones we lost years before: Dana Graham, John Herman, Grant Lamport, Sally Mullen, Tom Struckman, Bill Reynolds, Mary Reynolds, and Gordon Simard.  The list goes on.

John Hayden Herman (left) and his friend play guitar in Seattle on the porch of the place Larry Felton and Bill Yenne rented.

Although I paid my coach $50 for each weekly session, I “laid about” for a fortnight without writing.  Except a a couple thousand words of how depressed I was, at first, during the time I enlisted in the Marines.  I keep getting more and more depressed the more and more I write.  

You missed out if you are younger than 40.  

The Vietnam war years (1964-73) had two important aspects as I recall:  unspeakable stupidity, pain and cruelty in Southeast Asia amid guns, helicopters, rice paddies, red gritty dirt, and jungles, on the one hand; and stateside the glorious psychedelic drugs, striped bell bottom pants and bearded, long-haired drug- and sex-crazed hippies on the other.  I forgot to mention the arts.  Rock groups.  Big amplifiers, electric guitars, bands in every town.  Also underground comics, newspapers, vinyl records, and head shops.  Did I mention civil rights?  Black Panthers, women’s liberation.  Heroes, martyrs.

Michael Lynn Fiedler, when he visited me in Billings a few years ago.

I couldn’t make myself write.  My depression made me want to crawl under the wool blanket I keep on a chair in our room.  

Looking back on the late 1960s in Montana, I see more clearly how four beautiful hip women each, in turn, kissed me before kicking me out of their beds and lives forever.  At the time I thought I was ugly, an artist.  Those thoughts made me crazy.  The thought of war made me crazy.

Depression is a deadly disease and I was never the hippie I thought I was.  The one I wanted to be.  It was fun to strive, though!  In good weather we played outdoors.  In winter we made music indoors.  

Anyway, writing for at least thirty minutes daily is good.  Might help me redeem value for my $50.  

Today, I’ve come to believe walking 4-5 miles outdoors with wife and dog will give me energy for writing.  

Fortunately, my wife was not among the four women who gave me the boot.  She had the wisdom to see past my vanity, my pretense.

Instead, she took a chance on me, married me, and relocated to live with me in Orange County, California.  I was in the Marines there, learning to thrive in a strange environment with other, equally inexperienced, men and women.

We newly married California people were optimistic, strong, young, and we spawned three children before returning to Missoula.  

Next month we will have been married 50 years.  

Today, still shy of our anniversary, we walked nearly five miles, giving me the energy to write this, thus.


Gunther the smiling dog

Not mistaken for a farmer’s hog

Or the pig that the farmer haaaas

The piggy wig of the farmer’s laaaass

Stay back little Gunther, don’t get in my way

When I ask you to stay you must mind right away

Don’t inconvenience me when indoors you must stay

Because outdoors I am going to bring in some wood

The fire is indoors and is heating us good

So stay inside Gunther, as you know that you should

Don’t bark little Gunther it bothers my ears!

You yap at the mail carrier we’ve had all these years

You harp on the same old refrain that you know

And jump on the windowsill from the armchair below.

Truth is, I’m a disabled veteran.  I have hemorrhoids, hearing loss and high blood pressure.  This is 30% disability.  Piles, “huh?” and “psh psh psh.”

All that, because I enlisted in 1969 in Missoula.  A hippie who no longer had a railroad job on a steel gang.  An ex-gandy-dancer.  


Early March, 1970.  Old dirty snow.  I’m in my Marine dress green uniform, a Private, driving to Butte, Montana.   I was returning to duty after 30 days of leave.

Now I’m driving my mother and me about 60 miles from Dillon, Montana, to the Butte airport for me to go to Memphis for Avionics training. I feel hopeless and it takes an effort for me to not s

Mike Fiedler, 1947-2020

Mike visited our place in Billings on his way to his brother Kurt’s funeral in Albuquerque.

Michael Lynn Fiedler, 73, died this past week.  His parents were Margaret and Leslie Fiedler.  He had two older brothers, Kurt and Eric.  Both are dead.  He has three living sisters:  Deborah, Jenny, and Memo.  My problem is I don’t know much.  But when I did know them well, we were intimates.  Eric was four years older than Mike and Kurt was nine.  Eric was a theater technician, Kurt was a brain surgeon and educator.  What about Mike?


Dr. Leslie A. Fiedler, noted literary critic and author.

What did Michael do?  As in work?  I usually encountered him between jobs, when he was unoccupied, but traveling.

Michael said my brother Tom wouldn’t speak to him for a long time because “he thought I was a wastrel.”  

Was he?  He traveled all over the world:  N and S America, Europe, Asia, Great Britain, China.  He lived on a modest stipend about which he explained patiently to me several times.  He was frugal.  He was a Macrobiotic cook, a practicing Buddhist, a Jew.  He knew how to raise vegetables and other plants.  He was a consummate poet, hippie, beatnik, bohemian.  He could build a house.  He could sing in the Missoula Mendelssohn Club.  I have a photo of him wearing a tuxedo.  

Michael Lynn Fiedler leaves me mourning and confused, but that’s nothing new.  Why confused? I have to invent some theories.

I think Danny Merchant made this image of Michael.

You know how regular people live in houses?  Michael lived in a house.  But in between times when he stayed put, he traveled by air all over the world.  Every continent.  His words had more meaning than usual, somehow.

He looked like an elf or sprite in ordinary life.  His dad, Leslie the college English professor, was also short — I don’t know — about five feet tall.  But wide!  Both Mike and his father had large heads and stout chests.  I knew Mike best.  Off and on my life long.  High energy, that.

In the late 60s in Missoula, we had some magical summers with Michael.  I think Mike had the mental illness that makes you shout obscenities at strangers.  Only Mike shouted random things he heard in conversation.  I’m thinking of Tourette’s syndrome, although none of us had a name for the behavior then.  Jerry Printz said Mike was permanently spaced out.  I disputed that then and I still do.

Look!  I’m at Kiwanis park on a June morning in Missoula in 1968.  A figure on a 1950s woman’s bicycle is peddling this way, a blue bike with tractor seat and basket on front handlebars.  It’s Michael Fiedler.  He is smiling, rolling his head, clucking.  He has some flowers from someone’s garden. That’s how he appears.  Several times I’ve been tripping along on an idyllic Missoula scene:  green lawns and a creek, a bridge, wildflowers and birds.  An elfin figure wearing a sailors watch cap appears, grabs me by my arms, hugs me.  His smile is huge, his teeth are uneven, one or two missing.  My childhood friend!  Always shaggy long black curly hair and dense beard.  Looked like a pirate!

  He’s wearing sandals, black pants, colorful shirt, colorful scarf.  Does he have any dope?  No, but it’s early yet.  He pulls up and we greet and we hug!  We barge into Peter Koch’s little house, people still asleep in there.  Hungry?  Peter is the ultimate host.

We put on some rice to cook.  Brown rice, whole grain, unpolished.  Peter said he bought the 10 lb bag as insurance against hunger.  Peter spent most of his money on marmalade and expensive coffee from Broadway Market.  You know the place, Cipolato’s grocery.  Peter smoked expensive Balkan Sobranie tobacco.

Michael could come up with some amazing street drugs to share later in the day.  First we had to navigate the crowd of hippies that are wandering around Peter’s house.  They are Peter’s age, about 5 years older than us.  Probably in from Eugene or Seattle.

An outspoken woman in a long hippie dress teases Michael.  She is evidently put off by Michael’s tics and vocal outbursts.  She says she understands him, she said she knows why he blurts out “Fuuuuuuuck!!” and rolls his eyes.  She follows him across the yard as he tries to avoid her.  “I’m alright, Frank,” he blurts breathlessly, in a bass tone somewhat higher than a distant jetliner.  

Yet she teases him.  He finally turns to her and angrily demands she stop.  Mike looks like he could get physical.  She is taken aback, relents.  Yet, Mike does seem to be a bit incapacitated by his Tourette’s, and for some reason, the woman is dissatisfied about its authenticity, his inability to stop the grunts, the tics, the “Jacks and no jacks back!”

Someone said Michael once fell off a bar stool at the Missoula Club.  That episode with Frank Dugan was the source of another tic and repetitive outburst, “I’m alright, Frank!”

I’ve gotten poems and writings from Michael throughout my life, publishing them in our magazine, “The Portable Wall.”   Michael produced one such issue the Summer of 1979, I think. Here’s Mike’s work.

Could draw a kind of portrait.  He is intimately familiar with a variety of modes of thought, many of them hidden away on the planet, places he visited.  Every continent, his belongings in a small pack on his back, his transportation his feet.  His feet shod in whatever local persons are wearing.

Michael’s mind was quicksilver and he could put his thoughts on paper.  Sent them to me, and I have them now.

It was considerable work for someone trained to read handwriting to transcribe a page of Mike Fiedler’s manuscript.

I’m not done with this work. Reader, thank you for bearing with me. I’m still in acute mourning for my friend. I plan to share more. Colleen Kane offered this image of Michael, probably when he visited her and Bob Gesell.

Michael L. Fiedler at Colleen and Bob’s, I think.

Michael L. Fiedler

prelude to an obituary….

Michael Fiedler, 1975, Huntington Beach, California

Michael Lynn Fiedler is dead from a heart attack day before yesterday.  As far as I’m concerned, the universe, God, everything in it, is but a damn shade of what it used to be.  I feel sad. 

In my younger years, I lived a few yards from Michael’s at Fort Missoula (right after I was born.)  Michael loved me and I loved him.

His life was messy, scary even.  But then again, if you looked very closely, his life transmogrified into one that was well-ordered, crystalline.  I like both views. 

He showed up in my plain Montana life in his own way, at his own time.  We shouted, we argued.  I trembled because he seemed to be a wild man!  I swear he wasn’t a wild man. 

In fact, he told me he was writing a book about his experiences with Alan Ginsberg, Philip Roth, other intellectual heavyweights of the 60s-80s.  We can digress later.  Michael’s father, Leslie Fiedler, was the real heavyweight.  We can digress again.  Forgive me while I cry in an ugly way.

At the last, most recently, Michael was living with good friends who looked out for his interests.  I met them a few years ago and I was satisfied that Michael was safe.  We sat in back of his house in Missoula and drank wine.  Michael was fond of the grape.  Me too!  I have pictures.

Let’s go back to the beginning. You can skip ahead if you like.

I met Michael in 1952.  No.  I likely met Michael in 1949, the year I was born, but I don’t recall the meeting.  Michael and probably some of his family members went to Kalispell, Montana, to my grandparent’s house in — 1952?  Certainly not 1953, because my father died that year of cancer.  I remember the time, so I must have been at least two years old?  That would be 1952, in the Fall.

Michael was a chubby kid who liked pickles.  He and I ran around everything there was to run around at my grandparent’s five-acre orchard.

I’ll pursue Michael’s story later.

Northern Cheyenne Chief Anthony Prairiebear

Anthony Prairiebear, (photograph with his obituary).

September 22, 2020

Weeks ago, 62-year-old Anthony “Tony” Prairiebear died of natural causes.  I remember him well and I grieve.   Since then I learned that several others, Isadore Whitewolf and Jay Old Mouse, have also passed.  Although none of these three were close friends of mine, their absence hurts me deeply.  These three were clear thinking, traditional Cheyenne leaders.  None was easy to get to know.  Possibly Isadore would have been if I’d seen him more often.

Where to begin?  The first time I met Tony Prairiebear was on his porch in Billings.  I was delivering his prescription I had filled in Lame Deer to him at his house on Grand Avenue, across from Senior High.  I don’t remember the last time I saw Tony, but I always thought he was a powerful, sincere person.  I think he was attending college when I first met him.  Tony took the prescription, thanked me, and shut the door.

This was probably 1989, or so.  Maybe 1990.  I had never delivered a prescription to anyone before, that I can remember.  At that time I was only about seven years out of school myself. 

I couldn’t take the 200-mile a day commute to Lame Deer so I quit in 1990.

After a five-year hiatus at Crow Agency, I applied to return to Lame Deer.  Highway 212 to Lame Deer had been rebuilt straight and wide.  

My new boss was a Veteran’s Affairs pharmacist, Tim Dodson.  Tim said I had to be acceptable to the tribal Board of Health or he wouldn’t hire me back.

Tim invited me to the Dull Knife Cafeteria to be interviewed by Tom Mexican Cheyenne, Verna Old Mouse, and Tony Prairiebear, among others.  (Glad, I thought, I had once delivered a prescription to Tony and I had earned a reputation at Crow as being kind to people.)  They were mostly interested in whether I would commit to working for years there.

They said I’d be okay.  I stayed 12 years and, thanks to Tony, I learned how to listen to people.  I learned how to say no and take responsibility for saying no.  I learned to dress, behave, and speak decently. I can hear Tony saying, “no more, no less,” for emphasis.

I also learned how to say yes.  I learned to frequently wash my hands, how to apologize, how to look up the answers to questions, how to greet people by name.  I learned how to recruit grade school children to help me properly fold the flag at the end of the day.  

I have to give Tony Prairiebear credit for teaching me these things.  And much, much more.

Here’s Tony’s obituary that I found online:

Maa’heonee’veke’ese HolyBird, Anthony “Tony” Prairiebear began his journey back home on September 16th, 2020 at 10:00 pm. HolyBird was born on January 13, 1957 to Aloysius Prairiebear and Cora Spotted Elk. He was a descendant of Chiefs and also held a position on the Council of the 44 Chiefs.

It is our belief that we are only here for a short time, that our true eternal home is where our ancestors await us. It is with deep sadness that we allow Ma’heo’o to do his work, we understand that his plan is what is best in each of our lives. Tony will be remembered for his kindness, his prayerfulness, his commitment to our youth and his love for his family. Tony was somewhat of a private person always in deep thought and observing situations around him. People respected his opinion and advice. To be in his presence was powerful even if you didn’t know him, you knew he was a man of high respect and honor.

He lived a full life that was full of adventure and accomplishments. He completed his High School career at Busby High School and participated in sports with his favorite being cross country. In his senior year the Busby High School took state championship. He sat on the Tribal Council, worked for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in many capacities such as the Board Of Health Director, NC Tribal Forestry MIIF when they were highly requested all over the US. His most recent job was a Culture Specialist for Rocky Mountain Tribal Indian Leader.

He was a true Cheyenne man, a sun dancer, hunter, provider, always working on himself, and loved his family unconditionally. His first love and mother of his daughters was Anne Numkena.

He loved sweating and praying for everyone as often as he could no matter what the weather was like. He had tremendous respect for our traditional ways and participated in the Sundance. His first painter was Gilbert Littlewolf and his last painter was Ernest Littlemouth Sr also a good friend.

He was instrumental in starting the celebration of the “battle of where the girl saved her brother” and white river days, march against meth, prayer marches through Lame Deer, youth run to Ft. Laramie, has participated in the Ft. Robinson and so many other youth events.

Looking back on his early days at boarding school, he identified how the traditional Cheyenne familial system was damaged through this forced assimilation, largely removing our ability for healthy love and affection. So by his own example and leadership his legacy we hope has made an imprint on all he met.

Tony is preceded by his father Aloysius Prairiebear, his mother Cora Spotted Elk, grandson, Teton Peone, His aunts, Inez (Spotted Elk) Wilson, Alice Yellowplume, Irene (Spotted Elk) Wilson, uncles Abraham Spotted Elk, Kenneth Spotted Elk, Cedric Spotted Elk, Vernon Bullcoming, nephews Alex LittleCoyote, Wamblee Spotted Elk, brothers Clovis Wilson, Clement Wilson, Dino (Spotted Elk) Wilson and Isadore Whitewolf.

He is survived by his daughters Trina Marie Prairiebear & Antonia Lynn (Rudy) Peone, grandsons Jeremiah Prairiebear-Bement & Tyree Prairiebear-Flett, granddaughters Antonetta Prairiebear-Flett, Chenoa Prairiebear-Flett, Giuliana Prairiebear-Bement, LaPetite Aramisa Peone, Trionni Armani Andrew, sisters Renee Prairiebear, Barbara (Ryne) Harris, Diane (Neil) Beartusk, Lisa (John) Just, Kathy (Clinton) Harris, Clementine (Ambrose) Seminole, Cheryl (Merlin) Limpy, Irene Bullcoming, Ida (Robby) Onebear, Mona Bullcoming, Lattona Bullcoming, Carol (Randy) Gordon, Gwen Spotted Elk, brothers Johnny Wilson, Kipp Wilson, William Wilson Jr, Spencer (Michelle) Spotted Elk, Jared Spotted Elk, Sheldon Spotted Elk, Eric Spotted Elk, Lamar Spotted Elk, Lance Spotted Elk, Lane Spotted Elk, Kyle Burns, Truman Spotted Elk, Hadley Shoulderblade, Clint Shoulderblade, Uncles Wesley (Bonnie) Spotted Elk, Navitt Spotted Elk, Aunts Rhoda Bullcoming, Adeline Spotted Elk, Lydia (Frances) Hamilton, Linda Morrison, Earlene Clown, Clyde (Paula) Wolfblack and numerous nieces and nephews.

Tony was a Cultural Specialist for Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders. We would like to mention that he thought highly of his co-workers and the opportunity to work with each of them. He loved his job and did it well and to the best of his ability.

Tony’s family is large and includes the Teeths, Wolfblacks, Blackwolfs, Beaverhearts, Clowns, Roundstones, Bearquivers, Seminoles, HIwalkers, Whitedirts,

We would like to thank the ICU Team, Dr. Bigback and the COVID Team at the St. Vincents Hospital and the many people that offered prayers for our brother and family.

Rambling on Big Horn Mountains

September 20, 2020

Life is full of adventures these days, and sorrows.  Covid doesn’t factor in that much this past week, except it’s in its profound constancy.

Adventures:  P, G, and I drove the van to Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, thence to Greybull, thence to Worland, finally to Ten Sleep.  There we had burgers and fries on a patio.  Only I was repulsed by a galvanized bucket nearly full of water with cigarette butts getting soggy.  Two friendly couples sat far away and we chatted about Gunther and Wisconsin, respectively.  Young man darted in and out of the restaurant periodically to deliver bags of food in his Westfalia VW Vanagon, which we admired.  

Herd of young big horn sheep.

At a nearby RV park P beat me at Scrabble, then at gin rummy.  

We drove the Ten Sleep pass, spending the night six miles off he highway, near the top at Doyle Creek Forest Service Campground for free, because it was closed.  We checked out two other campgrounds, both full.  This was last Tuesday when it was so smokey.  P beat me at Scrabble.

What kind of poop is this? A bear?

We completed Ten Sleep pass at Buffalo.  Bought a cup of coffee with a housefly that I spit out at the last, thinking it was grounds.  Drove North to Sheridan, then to Ranchester then Dayton, then up the Medicine Wheel pass to Sibley Lake FS Campground.  Hiked an easy Nordic ski trail.  P beat me at Scrabble and we spent night at campground.  Dixon and his wife run the campground.

Drove back on US 14 after Burgess Jct. down Shell Creek.

In Billings washed clothes, ate lunch.  Put Mike Cooney campaign literature in the doors of labor union members.  Walked downtown to a RB Ginsburg memorial vigil.

Union guys with campaign literature.

Sorrows:  Old marriages are breaking apart in family (stress from Covid?). Nephew Jon, niece Beth, brother-in-law Vern.  Joe Rohrer’s mom died.  Prinz was in a car wreck that killed his brother and badly hurt him.  Always worried about our daughter’s husband with cancer.  My distant cousin Peter’s wife Julie has cancer.  Western US has horrendous wild fires.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg died day before yesterday.

Saturday I finally beat P at Scrabble.

Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River Canyon

September 3, 2020

Covid gets me down.  Emotionally, I mean, not physically.  Not directly.  I want to be physically active and emotionally connected with friendlies.  Gunther is a good dog, but I miss people.

My dear friend Mark called, the guy in Warm Springs State Mental Hospital last year about this time.  He’s doing okay at home, but is staying in.  He’s high risk of Covid.  He’s 71.  He has emphysema from a lifetime of cigarettes, although he quit.  His depression seems to be under control too.  Meds plus a counselor.  He said he’s been watching a lot of old dvds he gets from the library.  Movies, television series.  Like I said, he’s doing okay.

The isolation makes me feel half crazy and we—P. and I— bicker.  No singing for me, or I should say v. little.  Also no alcohol.  We watch dvds too, and hike around Billings.  To stay healthy.

A couple days ago we drove our conversion van to Clark’s Fork Canyon.  We’d been thinking about going there after a friend went.  I’d not heard of it before, but I heard it was fantastic.

At first I confused Clark’s Fork river with the Clark Fork of the Columbia that runs through Missoula.  However, they are not much related, except in being named after the 1803 explorer.  

The Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone flows east out of Yellowstone Park past Cooke City.  From there it flows through Sunlight Basin out of the mountains to the prairie.  After that it swings north and runs to Montana near the arid towns:  Belfry, then Bridger, then Fromberg, Edgar, Rockvale, Laurel, and joins the Yellowstone River.  It’s a modest size.

A friend told me about how the Clark’s Fork river carved a deep canyon through the Beartooth Mountains.  I saw some photos and a few descriptions of “Chug Water Formation” and the like, so I knew I had to see it too.  Even though I wasn’t sure where it was.

We drove from Billings to Laurel, then south past Belfry toward Cody.  The road to Cody is familiar because we’ve seen Heart Butte off to the left.  You can see Index and Pilot Mountains to the right.

As we cruised south toward Cody we imagined we would head west through one of the big canyons we could see in the Beartooths.  

Sure enough, eventually we came to a highway intersection with US 296 advertising a route to Cooke City.  The route has been designated the Chief Joseph Highway because Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce tribe through what is now Yellowstone Park through Wyoming back to Montana, then north toward Canada, eluding the US army,  Its hard to collect my feelings.  I can’t imagine the stamina, the intimate knowledge of the country.

We did want to visit the Clark’s Fork canyon, though.

The US Forest Service has public campgrounds at each end of the Chief Joseph Highway.  The one closest has the unfortunate name of “Dead Indian Campground.”  I always feel offended.

I expect my grandchildren to eventually have the “Dead Indian” name changed to “Racist Name Campground.”  We will all sleep better for it, I’m confident.

Anyhow, P. and I stayed at the Racist Name, which will be open just one more week, according to a grandmotherly white-haired, but hearty woman, who is the camp host.  She told us how to find the trailhead for a “good long hike into the canyon.”  She said it was a couple miles hike in, although she admitted she hadn’t hiked it yet.  She said to look for a pullout at the bottom of the switchback highway.

We ended up enjoying the hike, but there were no signs along the highway to mark the way!  Just a highway pullout about a mile east of the campground.

The next morning Gunther and we humans packed up some apples and water.  A couple apples apiece.  The trailhead had a Forest Service parking area and some signage that you couldn’t see from the highway.  We started walking about 10am.  

My internist recently prescribed me a water purifier system, a Greyl.  I figured I’d get some water from the Clark’s Fork later.  He also had recently increased me to four blood pressure medications:  metoprolol, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, and olmesartan.  Also tamsulosin, a prostate medication that can also reduce blood pressure.  

The result was I carried a heavy water purification device while under the influence of all those medicines to reduce my blood pressure.  I felt tired and light-headed, but P. and G. and I walked 3.7 miles down canyon, but high up on the rocky plateau overlooking the river, hundreds of feet below.

Why, you might ask, is it a good idea to be on so many blood pressure meds?  

Current medical guidelines call for treatment to obtain a goal of average blood pressure less than 120/80.  My son called it “chasing numbers.”  He’s right, of course.  The numbers are surrogate goals.  The real goal is a happy healthy life.  

In my case the goal was a successful hike to the river and back without getting sick.

We didn’t reach the river, but I got a photograph.  A man we met said the river was at the bottom of a steep switch back trail hundreds of feet long.  We’ll get there another time when we bring lunch and water.

We walked a long dusty hot 3.7 miles back to the van.  We ate sandwiches and drank milk.  Gunther curled up on his bed.

We drove to the west end of the Chief Joseph Highway to Hunter’s Peak Campground where we paid $7.50 to park our van across a road from some guy from Texas who looked to me like a serial murderer.  I kept an eye on him.

Each night P. and I played Scrabble (R) and she beat me both times.  

We had no cell phone reception until we reached Red Lodge at the bottom of the Beartooth Pass.

We stopped at Red Lodge Pizza for a hamburger and a chicken salad.  I gave Gunther several French fries.

Semper Fi, Henry Charles Harmoning

‘I was proud to be Harry and Lola’s son.  I was proud to be a Marine.  I was proud of my 35 years of service with the water treatment plant.  Most of all, I was proud to be ‘dad’ to my two sons, Andy and Eli.

Henry ‘Chopper’ Charles Haarmoning passed away August 15, 2020.  Henry was born in Billings on Sept. 5, 1951, to Harry and Lola Harmoning, joining three sisters.  He was later joined by three more sisters and a brother.  He graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1969 and joined the Marine Corps, serving from 1969-1971.  After leaving the military, he worked a variety of jobs before joining the city water department in 1974, where he worked until retirement in 2009.  For several years he was also the ‘maintenance man’ at Pioneer School.  Henry married Gail That in 1984; divorcing in 2006.  Together they were blessed with two boys who are an extreme source of pride.

Fall was Henry’s favorite time of year.  He loved hunting, both in his youth with his father and good friend Leon, and later with his son; and football, especially the UM Griz.  He was extremely handy and spent many hours building outdoor ornaments for family and friends.  If Chopper couldn’t fix it, you might as well throw it away!

Henry was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters Nancy Johnson and Beverly Comer.  He is survived by his sons Andrew and Eli (Brenda); siblings Judy (Ron) Williams, Betty (Mike) Ready, Carol (Robert) Sen, Gene Harmoning, Elaine Harmoning;; grandsons Hunter and Braxton; numerous nieces and nephews; and his beloved friend Zoe.

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, August 22, at 10 a.m. at Heights Family Funeral Home.

Billings Gazette 8/19/2020

I wondered if this was the same Private Harmoning from USMC boot camp more than 50 years ago?  I reached for my bright red copy of “1969 San Diego California Marine Corps Recruit Depot.”  This book, published in hard back by Jostens Military Publications, was always mostly disappointing to me, still is.  Most of its un-numbered pages have stock photos of Marine Corps basic training life:  yellow footprints, mess hall, drill instructors, uniforms, close order drill, rifle range, hair cuts, graduation.  The good stuff is at the back, photos of our Platoon 3213, hastily snapped.  Last and best, photos of each recruit and our instructors.

We lined up for photos.  We each took a turn with a fake dress-blue uniform blouse that had been cut at the back so we could wear it by sticking our arms through the sleeves; and a white hat perched on our head.  Our instructor told us we would be in a world of hurt if we smiled at the camera.

Anyway, I quickly confirmed that the Henry Harmoning in the obituary was the same as my fellow private from long ago.  He even had a Facebook page.  I didn’t delve into his personal information, but I did write a note on the website of the mortuary where his service will be held Saturday.  To my sorrow, I will not be in town Saturday because we are attending a memorial service for my sister-in-law in Big Timber the same morning.

I felt remorse he and I hadn’t known we lived in the same town for nearly 40 years.  

Therefore, I resolved to reach out to all of the other men in my basic training platoon.  So far, I’ve gotten in touch with one, Dennis Grisawald, of Helena.  Dennis was my squad leader, and an excellent one too.

We entered the Marine Corps in November 1969 during Vietnam.  Some of us ended up getting the 0310 MOS, infantry rifleman.  Others, like me, got an MOS for aviation.  That’s another story.  Every Marine was a basic rifleman, we were told.

I didn’t know anything about the Marine Corps when we filed through AFEES Butte for our physicals and tests.  We got on a school bus in downtown Butte and they took us to the airport for a direct flight to San Diego.  The pilot announced our presence.  He said we would be flying over Camp Pendleton where we could look down to see night operations under flares that lit up the mock battlefield like day.  Before we went home on leave months later we had our turn with the night flares.  I thought I’d freeze that February.

I don’t remember the first time I saw Henry Harmoning.  Could have been after we stood on the yellow footprints and were made to read about the UCMJ:  the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the law under which we had to abide.  We filed into a room with individually numbered tables, were made to strip and pack up all our civilian clothes to send home by mail.  We each received a service number.  Haircuts. Showers and shaving.  I nicked myself.  Shaving cream in a tube.  Barber missed one long hair near my ear during my one-minute haircut.  We got some basic clothing and sneakers and a big green sea bag to carry everything.  If we accidentally touched any furniture while we filed through the supply depot someone would curse at us.  I got called a “hippie,” but I don’t know how they knew.

Eventually we ended up with our bag of military stuff in the room with the numbered tables.  My number was 43.  Or perhaps 47.  I was starting to go schizophrenic and decided the number was important and indicative of my place in eternal madness.  

I also decided (1) I didn’t like the Marine Corps, and (2) I would do my best work.  A voice commanded us all to “sit at attention with our hands on our knees and our butts on the floor.”

We sat for a long time.  Hours.  Some of the others eventually quit sitting at attention and stretched out their legs or lay down on their sides.  After another couple of hours just about everyone but me was kicking back.  

I decided that, as much as it sucked, I would stay at attention, hands on knees.  Perhaps I would be the last of my family members ever to endure this (by now) painful position.  I felt I was in an alien place and I didn’t want to get used to it.

I spoke with a fellow recruit later whose way of coping was to adopt a “soft look.”  He explained he would make a wrinkle or some other purposeful imperfection in his uniform in order to thumb his nose at the Marine Corps.  I sort of liked his idea, but by the time I learned of it I was finished with training. 

Without warning, while sitting on the floor, we heard the loud voice of one of our drill instructors, SSgt Feyerchak.  He hollered and swore at us because we got him up in the middle of the night to babysit us.  I thought it ironic that he blamed us.  Perhaps he was trying to be funny?  No.  He acted like he despised us.  And, moreover, turns out he was the nice one.  

Took me weeks and weeks to realize the drill instructors didn’t hate us personally, but acted like they did.  The other one was Sgt Moser.  He was cold hearted, but good at teaching us how to march, make up our beds, clean things up.  

Our senior drill instructor, whose name I can’t remember except he was a gunnery sergeant, early on disappeared for no apparent reason, replaced by SSgt Feyerchak, who became a couple degrees warmer once promoted.  He’s the one who told us he wanted things done “neat.”

We started calling him “the grand old man of the corps” when he wasn’t listening.  Most evenings, if he was on duty, he’d give us a “daddy talk.”  He allowed us to ask  him questions and he’d swear at us and throw things.  Like our mail.  Or packages, if one of us got one.  I think those evenings were called “commander’s time.”

Three days in Duluth

Todd, Susanna, Cyrus, Roland and two rats live in Duluth.

August 1, 2020

Returned Friday from traveling to Duluth and back.  P. and me, and our granddaughter, Olivia.  She’s a peach, 13 years old.  I love her more than life itself.  She got her cousins Cyrus and Roland to stand with her in a row and stare blankly at me as I parked the RV.  Anyway, they were teasing me, overtly, and I had an emotion.  Olivia gave me a hug.  Awww.

We left several days ago from Billings, stopped at Miles City for food.  Fast-food from a drive through.  That’s the trouble with traveling with a 13-year-old. She has opinions about the drive throughs.

Stopped again in North Dakota, at the Painted Rocks Overlook.  We always stop there.  High nature, low commercialism.  Gunther likes to romp around.  Oops.  I forgot to mention we took Gunther.  Saw no charismatic animals.  Saw no non-charismatic animals either.  Except Gunther.

I love Eastern Montana.  People were good to us.  I also love North Dakota.  People were good to us there, too.

We’ve gotten to know a few places.  This time we stopped at a Good Sam RV park at Jamestown, ND.  P. didn’t like it because the toilets were closed and it was near noisy I-94.  We had electricity and water, also sewage dump.  No toilets, no showers.  I liked the proprietor, because he rode his bicycle around his park to lead us to the camping spot.  We had no fireplace, however.  (I wasn’t about to build a fire anyway.)  Olivia and P. cooked hot dogs over our Coleman stove flame.  Because I was busy trying to test our electrical connection, P. cooked two for me.  Bugs were starting to get fierce.  P. said she never wanted to stay there again.  Olivia said the man fell off his bike twice.  I liked the man, who wore a mask.  In making decisions, Olivia and P. formed a voting bloc to defeat me.

The man had a pair of lawn chairs situated at the edge of his park, overlooking a field of soybeans. He encouraged us to watch the sun set.

Next day we roared through North Dakota and Minnesota to Duluth to the arms of our son, Todd, his wife and two boys.  I misstated. I walked up to Todd and I asked him if he’d been exposed to Covid. “Every day!” he replied. We touched elbows. Todd works in a hospital ER.

We immediately drove to one of the many creeks that trickles through Duluth to Lake Superior.  Todd, the children, and I swam in a great pool that was brown from tannins that got in the water from the hardwood trees, I presume.  Cyrus and Roland swung from a rope to drop 10-15 feet into a deep pool.  The water was pleasantly cool.  Olivia is a good swimmer like Cyrus and Roland.  Todd noted that people have been getting hurt there for thousands of years.  Other youths also jumped into the pool from a variety of rocky ledges.

We emptied the water out of our ears, Gunther jogged up the steep hillside.  In my worried haste to climb up the rocks and to help Gunther I left my wet swimsuit and bag of gear.  I didn’t remember until we had returned to the cars.  Grandson Cyrus jogged back for those.

An amazing coincidence occurred.

A man and woman walking by noticed the license plate on our RV.  “Billings Montana?”  He said.

“Yes,” I replied.  “How did you know?”  

“Saw your ‘3’ license plate.  We lived in Missoula 11 years.”

“I’m from Missoula, originally,” I said.

“I taught at the University of Montana,” he said.  “Pharmacy.”

“I am a retired pharmacist,” I said.

“Where did you retire from?”

“Mostly Lame Deer, I was with the Indian Health Service.”

“I’ve done pharmacy in Lame Deer,” he said.  “In fact, I did TDY at the new clinic there one Summer.”

He said his name was Tim Stratton.  I remember he filled in for me when I attended our daughter’s wedding in Southern California.  He remembered that I had people’s photographs on my walls in my office in Lame Deer.  I didn’t meet him then, because he arrived after I left and he departed before I returned, so we wouldn’t recognize each other.

Tim left Missoula and now teaches pharmacy at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

We marveled at the coincidence, keeping socially distanced. I honked at him and his wife as we pulled away from the parking place.

Back at Todd’s, Olivia, Cyrus, and Roland played with Roland’s two pet rats. That night we slept soundly, like the rats.  

Next day we all went East along the Lake Superior North Shore to somewhere where we could join the hiking trail.  We hiked 3.5 miles to Bear Lake. I was soaked with sweat because it was 80 degrees and humid.  We also climbed about 1,300 feet elevation.  P. was concerned because I wrung a few cups of sweat from my shirt.  However, we all swam, except Todd’s wife Susanna.  She didn’t need to swim.  She was cool about hiking.

I thought it was a “death march.”  Everyone else thought it was a pleasant walk.

We slept well again.  Especially Gunther, I noticed.  The next day Gunther napped most of the day.  So did I.  However we came alive in the evening and went swimming in Lake Superior.  Not me, but most everyone else, including Gunther.  I think he swims.  I’m not quite sure.  Dog paddles.  We ate sandwiches Todd bought.  We drank some kind of carbonated beverage.  It was mostly water, but delicious.

That night we shared wine.  Well, I didn’t have much.  The women shared most of it.  The kids had none, of course.  We ate left over pizza.  The three cousins played with the rats again, that were getting kind of stinky in their dirty cage.  We didn’t allow Gunther to menace the rats.  Or for them to menace Gunther, either.

Friday P., Olivia, and I got up early to drive back to Billings in one day.

Because Todd said he was disappointed we left Duluth so soon, he threw eggs at our RV.  One struck the hinge on the back door.  The other hit the window behind the driver’s seat.  In the morning I used a toilet bowl brush to scrub off the egg white and yolk.

Todd said he threw the eggs, but I’m not sure.  Cyrus might have been the thrower.  Roland would be more apt to do it, then blame Cyrus.

We drove all day through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana.  We got a lot of bugs on our windshield.  I love the route, the people we met.  I like those folks.