This article was originally published by Four Points Press on February 10, 2022.
Michaelynn Hawk, 61, of Butte, passed away in Tulalip, Washington Thursday morning February 3, 2022.
Following treatment for cancer, she spent her last days on the shore of Puget Sound where friends and family were able to visit regularly, and her grandchildren played nearby. She died peacefully there with her son, Donavon by her side.
Born to Michael J. Hawk (Tiny Boy), and Luella LaForge Jefferson (Baby Girl), and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe, Michaelynn was given an Apsaalooké name Stands by the Banks of Water. She attended Bunker Hill Elementary Public School in Coos Bay, Oregon, Lodge Grass Elementary Public School, Saint Xavier Catholic boarding school and Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma until she returned home to finish at Lodge Grass High School in Lodge Grass, Montana, graduating in 1979.
While in school she competed in basketball, track, cross-country, baseball, bowling and barrel racing. After graduation she attended Rapid City Business College, Rocky Mountain College and Montana Tech where she made the dean’s list.
Hawk was also a tiger mother of six sons Donavon, Keaton, Wacey and Ethan Hawk, and Alonzo and Isaiah Otherbull, and adopted daughters Amanda Curtis, Molly Moody and Sunshine Curlee.
A tireless activist for social and environmental justice, Michaelynn received numerous awards, of which she rarely spoke. In 2015 she received the Jeannette Rankin award from the Social Justice Fund for her “longtime activism and extraordinary service” in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. Most recently, in 2019, she was awarded the MEIC Conservationist of the Year Award, which recognizes a life dedicated to protecting Montana’s environment.
Described by her peers as a “fierce, unwavering fighter for her people,” she worked with a variety of groups to enact change both on and off reservations in Montana. Her efforts brought light to numerous issues, such as disparities in policing practices and incarceration and the need for tribal consultation in environmental remediation.
At the time of her death she was Senior Advisor for Indian People’s Action in Montana. Her work has been included in publications such the American Apartheid by Stephanie Woodard, and A Report by the National Commission on Voting Rights -2014- Protecting Minority Voter, Our Work is not Done.
Until illness weakened her, she campaigned to insure that the gains won in voting rights, healthcare and education were being fairly and consistently implemented to benefit the Indian community.
Anyone who came up against Michaelynn knew they had met a noble adversary.
We mourn her loss and celebrate her dedication to making our community a better place. Donations in her honor can be made to the Butte YMCA. https://butteymca.org/donate
She exists in me now, just as I will and already do within my grandchildren.
No one ever truly dies.
~ Joy Harjo, Muscogee Nation, US Poet Laureate
Michaelynn was preceded in death by Myron Old Bull, Myron Jefferson, Mitchell Hawk, and Newlyn Little Owl.
She is survived by her children; her brothers, Harold Jess Brien, Chris Lunn; adopted brother, Mike Robins; sisters, Darwina Brien, Betty Jo Morrison, Sandra Grant, Betty Laforge, Susan Whiteshirt; adopted sister, Anni Ross; aunt, Bonita Hawk and her children, Benedicta Little Wolf, Georgianne Pisano, Lavina and Edgar Old Bull; her aunt, Ardith Hogan and her children, Trudy Old Crane, and Helen, Regis and Frank Hogan; her grandchildren, Zayonna, Alonzo Jr. (Ezekial) Otherbull, Kevin Brock, Zryous Hawk, and Olive Savaria; as well as many, many nieces and nephews.
Her extended maternal family includes the Carpenter, Hunts Arrow, Laforge, and Jefferson families. Her extended paternal family includes the Big Shoulder, Black Hawk, Hawk, Bravo, Holds the Enemy, Nomee, Plenty Hawk Singer, Smart Enemy, and White families.
Celebration of Life services will be held at a later date in Butte and Lodge Grass. A small service for immediate family will be held at noon on Sunday, February 13, 2022, at Lodge Grass Church in Lodge Grass.