Phaywus Ithe (Bear Woman) peacefully went to the spirit world to join her loving relatives on July 17, 2021. Helen Marie Striker was born on February 9th, 1936, to Bernard Striker and Katie Capture Striker of the Aaniiih Nation. Helen grew up in Hays, Montana. After Bernard’s passing, Katie remarried. John and Katie Stiffarm had four more children, Louis, Lenore, Mathew, and Carl. These brothers and sister added to Helens’ other Siblings Alfred Striker, Edward Foxy Filesteel, Ramona Filesteel Cliff, Benedict Striker, Thelma Striker Yellowtail. Helen, or Granny as we lovingly called her, spent many years growing up at the Stiffarm homestead riding horses and attending rodeos. Helen gave birth James Bobsy Stiffarm at a young age, and Katie and John adopted James and raised him as their own. Although Bobsy was legally adopted by his grandparents, he always called Helen “Ma”. Helen recounted many hardships growing up, and always reiterated that when times get tough families stick together. Helen loved to visit and knew many people from all the places she traveled to and lived in. She When Helen recounted stories, her face would light up. You could see in her eyes that she was reliving old times. Helen was a walking history book, with her passing so much knowledge of family history went with her. Helen received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Evergreen State College in Washington during the mid-70’s. Helen passionately believed that all Native Children should remain with their immediate families and not be placed into the system to be forgotten about and lost. It was during this time that Helen helped her sister Ramona in establishing the Indian Child Welfare Act which is now law and is still in effect today. Helen moved to Missoula where she helped create the MYADS program for Native Americans to go and receive help with their Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Services and area community services and programs. Helen grandson Thomas Kipp Jones Sr. was born to Sherman and Henrietta Cochran. After Henrietta’s passing, she adopted and raised him. In addition, she also helped raise Kimmers and Vernies son Eric, who she also eventually adopted. Helen moved to Harlem, MT and retired about 1996 after adopting her great grandson, Marcus Jones. This was the beginning of her devoting her life to raising and helping raise her great grandchildren which she continued to do until her last breath. Helen devoted the last years of her life raising her great grandchildren Marcus, Trevor, Thomas Jr. Logan, Christian and Henrietta Etsy. Helen loved her family immensely and knew every one of her nieces, nephews, grandsons, great grandsons, great granddaughters, and great-great grandchildren. She made every one of them feel special and loved. She has left a huge impact on everyone she has come across in her walk life and her passing will be everywhere. Phaywus Ithe (Bear Woman), Tuffy, will be greatly missed by everyone.
She leaves behind a large loving family as follows: Son: James Bobsy Bummy Stiffarm (Cheryl); Adopted children: Jackie Lee Yellowtail, Thomas Yellowtail, Velores Funny Jones , Vernie Healy (special daughter in law), Luci Shortman (special granddaughter in law); Grandchildren: Sheena Healy , Tom Jones, Levi Little Mustache, Jason Jones, Jesse Jones, Jerilyn Jones, Violet Mary Jones, Jerrel Jones, Diana Weasleboy, Taylor Yellowtail; Great Grandchildren: Marcus Jones, Trevor Walker, Thomas Jones Jr., Logan Jones, Christian Jones, Etsy Jones, Michael Weasleboy, Michelle Crowfeather, Takoda Crowfeather, Miya Jones, Arin Healy, Eric Healy, Rosa Brown, James Brown Great great grandchildren: Peyton Jones, Brenlee Jones, Makayla Jones, Greyson Jones, Leslee Jones, Trevor Walker Jr.; Brother: Mathew “Tookie” Stiffarm (Jackie); Sister: Dr. Lenore A Stiffarm; Many nieces, nephews, and adopted grandchildren. Preceding Phaywus Ithe in death were her sons Sherman Jones and Kimmers Jones, mother Katherine Capture Stiffarm, father Bernard Striker, brothers Carl Stiffarm, Louie Stiffarm, Ben Striker, Ed Filesteel, and Al Cliff, sisters Thelma Striker Yellowtail, Ramona Yellowtail, grandson Eric Jones and granddaughter Kayelynn Healy.
Please forgive us if we have forgotten to mention anyone. It is not intentional as our grief is so great in this time.