Posted on

Kenneth Ryan

Kenneth Edmond Ryan, Tashunga Saba (His Black Horse), 80, of Wolf Point died Feb. 17, 2024.

He was born Oct. 8, 1943, at Chicken Hill (Shiyo Baha) to Thomas Ryan Jr. and Agnes Jackson Ryan. His sisters were Joy Ryan Payne, Cleo Ryan, Charity Ryan, Bernadine Ryan and Beatrice Ryan. His grandparents were Thomas Ryan Sr. and Susie Baker Ryan. He was raised by his parents, grandparents, other family and the community members of Shiyo Baha. He was raised to be Wadopana and Nakona. He was a proud member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine Tribes.

He graduated from Wolf Point High School in 1962. He served in the United States Army from 1965-67.

In 1969, he met and married Sylvia Stanley from Rocky Boy. They met at the Rocky Boy powwow and have been inseparable since. For the past 55 years, they have spent their lives together as best friends.

He received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Weber State University in 1975 and received a master of human services from the University of Great Falls in 1998. In 1995, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Montana. He was bestowed this degree for his work on the Assiniboine language orthography and curriculum.

He devoted his life to serving Native American communities throughout the country. Over the years, he has worked for the Administration of Native Americans, Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service. In addition, he served the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, as an elected Tribal Council member and as Chairman of the Tribes from 1985-1987. In every work capacity, he sought to ensure Native Americans had access and support for federal, tribal and state programs.

He contributed to many great initiatives throughout his life. The outcomes of his work are evident in our community. Not only was he a pipe carrier and lodge maker, but he was also at the forefront of establishing the Fort Peck Community College. He was the second Indigenous person to create an orthography for a heritage language. He authored 23 Assiniboine lessons. He worked to develop Native American language courses in Native spirituality, language and culture. His final work was assisting his granddaughter, Mahu, in creating Nakona University, an online Nakona I?abi (Assiniboine language) school for children and adults. He was currently serving as the vice-chairperson since its establishment in 2022.

Other life accomplishments include his work which led to repatriating remains from the boarding school era. In 2013, he accepted the Fort Peck Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the Fort Peck Tribes.

In 1994, he was the ceremonial leader on behalf of the American Indian College Fund in Rome, Italy. There, he met the Pope and conducted a pipe ceremony.

He is survived by his wife, Sylvia Ryan; daughters, Traci Caplette and Kimberly Ganade; two grandchildren; and three great-grandsons.

He was preceded in death by his son, Knu owada; sisters, Joy Ryan Payne, Cleo Ryan, Charity Ryan, Bernadine Ryan and Beatrice Ryan; and one great-grandson.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the new Community Hall in Wolf Point. Burial was at Oswego Presbyterian Cemetery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *