January 17, 2017

Tribe mourns loss of fluent Arikara speaker

WHITE SHIELD, ND – Sahnish language educator and elder, Sahnin Kata' – Yellow Calf Woman also known as Maude Starr died on Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

Yellow Calf Woman was 71 years young and she was proof that education is a life-long learning process.  Yellow Calf Woman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education on June 1, 2001, through the University of North Dakota.  More importantly, she was a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and was one of only a handful of educators who had the necessary skills to teach the Sahnish language, also known as the Arikara language.

She was a gift to those who knew her.  Tom Wells of the Tribe’s Dead Grass Society commented on the loss of this Sahnish elder, "She was a nice, kind lady...happy go lucky."

Yellow Calf Woman shared the Sahnish culture and language with young people through school programs.  She was the first and only Arikara woman to teach the Arikara language at New Town's Edwin Loe Elementary School.  Yellow Calf Woman taught lessons on counting, colors, simple phrases, and storytelling.  Oftentimes, she would use humor in her classroom to help reinforce her lessons.

Having lived away from the Fort Berthold Reservation for much of her lifetime, she was extremely proud of her Sahnish/Arikara heritage.  Yellow Calf Woman will be remembered by her young students as an educator, Sahnish linguist, comedienne, and as someone who believed in them and validated their ways.

Funeral services for Sahnin Kata' (Yellow Calf Woman) were held Jan. 27 in White Shield, ND.