Misty Anne Upham (1982 – 2014)
AUBURN, WASHINGTON – On Saturday, October 25, 2014, a farewell service was held for Misty Anne Upham at the Muckleshoot Pentecostal Church. People coming to pay their respects walked into the church dressed in traditional Native clothing along with the funeral black expected at such gatherings. A trio of people close to Misty and her family provided beautiful music as the sanctuary filled. In front of the altar lay Misty’s casket, draped in a lovey Pendleton blanket with roses on top. Her photo was displayed to the side of her casket, wreathed by a large number of flower bouquets. Shortly after two, the service began with a long time family friend speaking of his love of Misty and her family, his walk in faith with Misty and her family, and his belief that Misty was now with her Heavenly Father and her savior, Jesus Christ.
While Misty’s death was no less than a tragedy, the words and the songs sung in her honor spoke of hope, of life beyond death, and of her spirit. Several people, friends of Misty and her family, told of her talent, her joyous nature, her love of life and her family, her hopes for the future, and her deep faith. One of the speakers shared a story typical of Misty’s care for others; of Misty delivering several hundred dollars worth of food goods to help him out, a gesture of help and support she frequently gave to the people in her world. Another one of the speakers sang a haunting honoring song and also shared the graciousness that Misty brought to her life.
Misty’s eulogy, delivered by close friend, Nellie Le Gaspe’, detailed her accomplishments in her blossoming movie career. Beyond that, Ms. Le Gaspe” told of Misty’s willingness to hear other’s concerns and problems and offer her support. Ms. Le Gaspe’ beautiful words spoke of the importance and joy Misty brought to her family; her father, Charles; her mother, Mona; her sister, Amanda; and her brother, Christopher; her friends; and to people who worked with her.
Among those honoring Misty with their songs and their words were the Crazy Dog Singers from the Blackfoot Reservation. These men traveled from Montana for the sole purpose of singing honoring songs for Misty’s travel to her next home. These same singers comprised the honor guard that brought in the colors at the start of the service.
Muckleshoot Pentecostal Church was site of Misty Upham Memorial Service
As was the case a week before at the vigil held for Misty, people from many different tribes, Yakama, Apache, Blackfoot (Misty’s tribe), Cowlitz, Oglala Sioux, Muckleshoot, and more, came to honor her. In the background, behind the altar, a running slideshow spoke in pictures of Misty’s life and beauty, talent and career. Misty’s farewell was poignant, inspiring, touching, and beautiful, a fitting tribute to a young woman who was no less than any of these characteristics.
While she has now been laid to rest, the light Misty was in the world will continue to shine through her works, her family, her friends, and all of Indian Country who have come to know her in the past month. It is hoped that in the coming days and weeks, her family and friends will find some level of resolution and answers to the questions that remain after Misty’s untimely passing. Misty’s family and friends deserve nothing less than to find a road to peace after their shattering loss.
To the men who found her and brought her home, a special thank you is well deserved. To the friends and co-workers who loved and admired her, she will stand as an inspiration, with the focus on the brightness she gave to the world instead of the sadness and confusion of her tragic death. To her parents and siblings who loved her, while we can only imagine the pain of your loss, Indian Country holds out our hands to you and we say thank you for giving us this beautiful woman.
It is said that God calls the best of us home early to be an angels in his heaven. In Misty’s case, there is now doubt this was true. There can be no question that Misty’s love and joys and hopes will be the beacons that her family and friends will follow in their own lives. As was spoken so lovingly in all of the words in her service, Misty gave far more than she realized and the love she was given was far more than she might have ever guessed. Her death changes none of this.
Rest in Peace, Misty. You will be sorely missed and always loved.