Written by The Herald-News
Philip Red Eagle, “Kokepesni,” “Not Afraid,” 96, died Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.
He was born in a log cabin at Fort Kipp on the Fort Peck Reservation Nov. 25, 1916. He struggled courageously over the last year with his health.
He was well-known for his basketball skills. On Dec. 7, 2007, he was part of the first group of Indian athletes to be inducted into the Montana Indian Athletes Hall of Fame. His most memorable high school year was his senior year in 1936 when the Brockton High School basketball team took the state championship. He was also an excellent baseball player and a great horseman.
After high school, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps for two years and then headed west to attend Chemawa Technical School near Salem, Ore. It was here that he met Marian Steilacoom (Salish) and married her in the summer of 1940. They relocated back to Marian's home in Port Angeles, Wash., and then to Fort Peck, finally settling in Washington just before World War II. He worked at Boeing in Seattle, Wash., until the war started and then moved to Tacoma, Wash., to work at Todd Shipyard as a shipfitter. After the war, he went to work at Cushman Indian Hospital, a TB sanitarium. There, he worked as carpenter and painter.
During his employment at Todd and Cushman, he continued to practice his love of basketball and baseball. He played for the shipyard basketball team and, after the war formed, both a basketball and baseball team named the Tacoma Tomahawks and participated in the Indian basketball and baseball leagues as a player and manager until 1959. The Tomahawks were made up of Native American players from tribes outside the northwest region.
In 1959, after the closing in Cushman, the family moved to Sitka, Alaska, working at the Mt. Edgecumbe Public Health Service Hospital that served the Alaska Native population. Philip and Marian retired in 1981 and moved back to Tacoma, buying a home and finally settling down.
Even though he lived away many years, he managed to make a trip home each year to visit friends and relatives across the reservation and attend a pow-wow. He loved his family and showed that love through his phone calls and visits, giving words of praise, encouragement and comfort.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marian; father, Harold Red Eagle; and his mother, Lucy Little Crow-Red Eagle; his son, Ronald; sisters, Katherine Blount, Alice Buck Elk, Clara Blount, Rita Belgarde and Virginia Spotted Bird; a adopted sister, Sybil Lambert; and adopted brothers, Alpheus Bighorn, Ernie Bighorn, Leonard Bighorn and Jacob Bighorn Sr.
He his survived by his daughters, Darlene Salyers of Tacoma and Teresa Red Eagle of Poplar; one granddaughter; and three great-grandchildren.
His funeral service was held Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 10:00 a.m. at the Brockton Cultural Center. Interment was at Fort Kipp Cemetery in Fort Kipp.