LAME DEER, Mont. — The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is mourning the loss of one of their chiefs, Anthony “Tony” Prairebear, who died on Sept. 16 from nartural causes. Prairiebear, whose Indian name was Maa’heonee’veke’ese HolyBird, was 62.

Prairiebear was a descendant of chiefs and also held a position on the Council of the 44 Chiefs with the Northern Cheyenne Nation.

He will be remembered for his kindness, prayerfulness and his commitment to our youth and his love for his family. Prairiebear was 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, and was considered a man of respect and honor, according to his family.

"Tony Prairiebear inspired hundreds to achieve sobriety and prevent substance abuse. He believed in the power of love and healing through culture, forgiveness and identity. Hundreds of youth ran relays, rode horseback and walked to overcome adversity learning under Tony's guidance and teachings of his Sweat House ways of living. The moon will shine more brightly in the days to come,” Yvette Joseph, friend from neighboring Washington state, said.

A product of an Indian boarding school, Prairiebearreflected on how the traditional Cheyenne familial system was damaged through forced assimilation, where Native children were removed by the government and sent to boarding schools. He said the experience largely removed Native families’ ability for healthy love and affection.

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

Prairiebear served as a cultural specialist for Rocky Mountain tribal leaders. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article Mr. Prariebear passed away from Covid-19. Native News Online was informed by a family member, he passed away from natural causes. Native News Online works hard to provide accurate information and apologizes for any inconvenience or discomfort for your mistake.

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Author: Native News Online Staff