Francis Lee Bear Claw, 89 of Lodge Grass, passed away July 7, 2020 at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, MT.
The name Biakusiiliabacheeitche’ -“Speaks to a Woman of High Authority” was given to him by a respected elder. He was born February 7, 1931 in Crow Agency, MT to Ellsworth Little Light and Edna Stops Hill. He was adopted and raised by Hartford and Janie (Stops) Bear Claw in the Lodge Grass area. He was a member of Greasy Mouth clan and a child of Bad War Deed/Sore Lip.
He was married to Bertha (Medicine Crow) Bear Claw and they resided in Lodge Grass MT. Together they raised their five children, his daughters from his previous marriage, and several children they took in as their own. Francis had a kind heart and never turned anyone away in need of aid or advice. He was a true patriarch of the Bear Claw family. Francis and Bertha enjoyed over 50 years together traveling across North America visiting family and friends. Bertha loved going to pow-wows so they traveled throughout Indian Country enjoying their life together until her death in 2013. Francis expressed gratitude with the blessing of many children and many, many grandchildren.
In his younger years he worked at the Sugar Factory in Hardin MT. Among his many accomplishments in his 89 years, Francis was proud of the fact he completed his certification to be an electrician at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. He worked as a construction contractor for the Crow Tribe of Indians until retirement. Even in his later years, Francis often volunteered with house repairs or electrical issues in the community. Free time was spent on his ranch north of Lodge Grass raising horses and cattle. He was also an accomplished silversmith and expert in assembling traditional Crow old time saddles. Francis was truly an artisan and cowboy at heart, learning the trade of raising livestock and teaching the younger generations. His silver and turquoise jewelry are priceless keepsakes for his family and friends. As a proud member of the Crow Nation, he was a committee advisor and joined the delegation of late Edison Real Bird administration to Washington, DC, and continued to work in many administrations, including the late Carl Venne and the late Clara White Hip administration. Throughout his life, Francis endured many losses and difficult times, but even to the end, he remained steadfast to his faith in God.
Survivors include his children Roseline (Loren) Old Bear, Dean (Ramona) Bear Claw, Hartford (Angie) Bear Claw, Bradford (Billie K.) Black Eagle, Cornelio Vega, Donna Lee (Russell) Stands Over Bull, Lana (Karson) Schenderline, Merce (John) Pretty On Top, Olivia Bear Claw, Autumn White Clay, Coolidge (Rebecca) Jefferson Jr., Colleen Denise Nomee, Letha (Dan) Gun Shows, Evelyn Jefferson, Dorothy North Piegan, Cal (Mary) Walks Over Ice, Jim Riggio, Francis White Clay and his little partner/grandson Emilio; siblings Melvin Stops, Arlie Stops, Cornelius Little Light, Roseline (Ronnie) Yellowmule, Verlie Walks Over Ice, Stella Not Afraid, Kathryn Old Crow, Violet Enick, Janice (Leo) Hudetz, Lena Little Light and Ella Beth (Truman) Little Light.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his wife; step-father Thomas Hill; daughters Jaclyn and Cheryl Bear Claw, Bernadette White Clay; son Kennard Jefferson; brothers Norbert, Darrell and Oliver Hill, Hartford “Junior Boy” Stops and Roger Stops and Robert Little Light; sisters Ilean Big Hair, Justine Russell, Minnie Fitzpatrick, Carmen Little Light and Mary Jane Little Light Costa.
Francis was blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren spanning into six generations. His extended family include, Stops, Bull Over the Hill, Black Eagle, Little Owl, Big Hair, Little Lights in US and Canada, Crooked Arm, Good Luck, Locks and Means of Pine Ridge, SD, Pretty On Top, Jefferson, Zane Spang family of Ashland, Gamblers of Ethete, WY, Hoptowit and John family of Washington.
We would like to thank Dr. Christianson at Frontier Cancer Center, St. Vincent Healthcare, Melanie Walker at Lodge Grass Indian Health service and Dr. Chris Johnson for their help in caring for our dear father.
Our family is large so we apologize if we omitted anyone.
Graveside services will be held July 11, 2020 at 11 am at the Lodge Grass Cemetery in Lodge Grass, Montana. Bullis Mortuary is entrusted with arrangements.