Salteaux elder dies at age 96

I’m sharing this obituary notice sent to me today by Phyllis Parker who wanted to share the following information about her  uncle who died in Great Falls, Mont. At nearly 100 year’s old, Charlie Mechance will be missed greatly.  Here is some family information about him:

Charlie Mechance, 96, Ah-Si-Ne-Wah-Chik Kah-Ni-Pa-Wi-T (He Stands on a Mountain), was born December 25, 1912, at Lizard Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, and died on May 22, 2009, at a local nursing home of natural causes. A traditional Indian wake was conducted by his nephew, Glenn Gopher, a traditionalist. Charlie Mechance was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Wednesday, May 27, 2009.


Charlie was the oldest member of the Ah-On-Te-Ways, or Ki-Wahn-To-Wahn Band of the Saulteaux Indians of Montana. The Saulteaux Indians (Nah-Kah-Wi-No-Wahk) are a branch of the Ojibway Nation from the Great Lakes Region. At an early age, Charlie, and his mother Elizabeth Mechance (Po-Ni-Kwah-Ne-Pihk), grandmother Kah-Pis-Kwah-Pi-Twow, Aunt Mamie and Uncle Jim Whitford traveled from Lizard Lake, Saskatchewan, using a farm wagon pulled by a team of horses to an Indian campsite on Hill 57, west of Great Falls, Montana.

Charlie, with his mother returned to her home state of Montana, and joined Jim Loudthunder Gopher’s Band of Ojibways from that time on.

As a young boy, Charlie was a hunter, a fur trapper, and a ranch hand. His other employment later in his life included various labor and construction jobs. Charlie enjoyed helping the natives of the village on Hill 57 by chopping wood, and hauling water from the only water well on Hill 57. He was always more than willing to help in any possible way. Charlie was very protective of his nieces and nephews, respected them, and even took them as his own children, and grandchildren. Charlies spoke his native Saulteaux language fluently, the Cree Language, and English.

He shared his culture with those who inquired about the traditional life and translations of the Saulteaux customs. He never refused to share his knowledge as a cultural leader. Charlie also loved animals, which was very much a part of his life. He is survived by his brothers, Lawrence Whitford of North Battleford, Sask., Eddie (Pearl) Whitford of Rocky Boy’s Reservation, and an adopted mother Patsy Chippewa Evans, and numerous nieces and nephews in Europe, and throughout United States and Canada.

Charlie is preceded in death by a sister, Babe Mechance Gopher (Wah-Pi-Pi-Ye-Si-Wis-Kweo, or White Thunder Woman), his mother, Elizabeth Mechance (Po-Ni-Kwah-Ne-Pihk), his grandmother, Kah-Pis-Kwah-Pi-Twow, or Is-Kwah-Chis Mechance, grandfather Pe-Yah-Pi-Ko-Kwahn (Iron Feather) Mechance, another grandfather Os-Pwah-Kahn (Pipe), and a great-grandfather, A-On-Te-Ways, or Ki-Wahn-To-Wahn (Repeating Thunder). (By Phyllis Gopher-Parker, niece) O’Connor Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

Jodi Rave

Jodi Rave

Jodi Rave Spotted Bear is the publisher of the Buffalo's Fire.

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