Benjamin “Ben” Stiffarm, “Baas Thay” (Comes Over the Hill), 85, an elder of the A Ahinin Nation of Fort Belknap, died Sept. 18, 2012, of leukemia.
He was born in Hays on July 18, 1927, to Phoebe (Bell) and Alfonses Stiffarm. He served in the Army from Aug. 16, 1945, to Jan. 22, 1947, and was honorably discharged. He married Ida Della Robideau on Nov. 7, 1951, in Butte. They had lived in Oakland, Calif., and Seattle, Wash., for more than 40 years, then moved to Spokane, Wash., for 10 years and returned to Billings in 1999.
Mr. Stiffarm graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Evergreen State College in Washington state in 1978. He had worked for more than 50 years throughout the Pacific Northwest in leadership roles promoting the rights of American Indian people and communities.
He was a founding member of the Seattle Indian Health Board, Chief Seattle Club and United Indians of All Tribes. He supported the American Indian Movement occupation of Wounded Knee and worked with the federal and state governments and tribal nations on American Indian issues.
Survivors include his wife.
The wake started Sept. 20 in the double tipi at Lenore Stiffarm’s residence at Dry Lake in Hays. Rosary was Sept. 21, and Funeral Mass was at St. Paul’s Mission in Hays on Sept. 21. Interment was in the Stiffarm Family Cemetery, Dry Lake, in Hays. Arrangements were by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.