Thomas Stillday Jr.
Traditional Indian Services will be held at 9:00 A.M. on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at the Ponemah Elementary School in Ponemah , Minnesota with Anna Gibbs officiating. A wake will begin 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, October 16th at the Ponemah Elementary School in Ponemah , MN and will continue until the services. Burial will be in the Family Burial Grounds at Ponemah , MN .
Thomas Stillday, Jr. 74, whose Indian name was Ozaawabiitang, which means Yellow Water, of Ponemah , MN died Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at PHS Indian Hospital in Ponemah , Minnesota
He was born on February 20, 1934 in Ponemah , Minnesota the son of Thomas and Lucy (Johnson) Stillday, Sr. He was raised and educated in Ponemah, graduating from Red Lake High School . He enlisted in the US Army on January 7, 1954. He served as a combat engineer during the Korean War, where he and other Anishinaabeg used Ojibwe like the famous Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal, Specialist 4 on December 31, 1961. He then returned to Ponemah. He studied Elementary Education for a while at the University of Minnesota- Morris . He married Mary Lou Thomas on May 19, 1973. He worked as a commercial fisherman on Red Lake , and in logging and road maintenance. He worked as a home school coordinator at the Ponemah School for many years. He was one of Red Lake â€™s chief spiritual leaders and advisers. As a prominent spiritual leader he taught Midewiwin (Me-DAY-win), or the Heart Way of Life. He had been a leader among his people, pushing for a return to the Red Lake Nationâ€™s traditional and spiritual roots. He has brought alive the Ojibwe culture for a generation of young American Indians, hoping they can understand and carry on the traditions of their forbearers. He had always remained active in Red Lake Tribal Affairs and was incredibly caring and giving to his community. He was the Ponemah District Representative to the Red Lake Tribal Council from 1988 to 1996. He had been a Red Lake Fisheries board member for 17 years. He served on the Red Lake School District #38 School Board from 1997 to 2000. He was serving as president of the board of directors for the Jourdain-Perpich Extended Care Facility in Red Lake from 2002 to the present. He was an advisor to the Minnesota Historical Society from 1990 to the present. He served on the Anishinaabe Legal Services board of directors in Cass Lake from 1996 to the present. He was an Elder Indian Advisor for the Department of Medicine and Social Work at the University of Minnesota , Duluth . He was an Anishinaabe committee member of the Diabetes State Program at the White Earth Reservation. He was serving as a board member for the Healing Pathway Program in Red Lake , the Red Lake Tribal Enrollment Committee, the Red Lake Tribal Credit Committee, the Red Lake Homeless Shelter, and the Juvenile Detention Center in Red Lake . He had been a foster grandparent at the Ponemah School . As an Ojibwe whose roots were steeped in the old ways of religion and language, in 1997 he was the first person outside the Judeo-Christian tradition to serve as chaplain in the Minnesota State Legislature.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Stillday of Ponemah, Minnesota; 3 sons, Robert Natewa, Jr., Thomas E. Stillday, and Dexter (Pam) Stillday, all of Ponemah; 3 daughters, Elaine (Eric) Armstrong, Karen Natewa, and Valerie Stillday, all of Ponemah; 1 brother, Wilbur (Patsy) Stillday of Redby; 10 grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces who called him Grandpa.
He was preceded in death by his parents Thomas and Lucy; 5 brothers, Bruce Stillday, Percy Stillday, Warren Stillday, Morris Roy, and George Baptiste; and 5 sisters, Bertha Kingbird, Adella Northbird, Joyce Black, Lillian Greenleaf, and Leona Stillday.
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