Our Mother, Ota’taveenov’ae, Blue Teepee Woman, left us on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 to continue her walk with Jesus into the Kingdom of Heaven where her Lord and Savior has prepared a place for her.
Otatavenovae was born on April 24, 1957 to Harold Killsontop and Elva Russell. She was raised by her grandma Ke’eehe Alice Risingsun Russell. She would often talk about her grandma and how loving and caring she was and how she taught her about God’s word. Ota’tavenov’ae attended Busby school from elementary and graduated in 1975. She had a very good friend Louise Big Back Price whom she talked about often and missed a lot. After high school she went on into college at Haskell in Lawrence, Kansas. She often talked about being there with her sister Rebecca. After spending two years there she returned home. She talked about being homesick and missing her grandma so much. She was happy to return and be with her.
Aline met James (Jim) Littlewhiteman they married in 1979 and soon after had their first child Diandra. During this time, she also worked for the Northern Cheyenne Ambulance Service as an EMT. She also worked as a dialysis technician for the tribe and as a dental assistant for the Indian Health Service. In 1984 they had their son James David (JD) and in 1989 Allison. They were later divorced in 1993.
And in 1995 she had another son, her youngest, Dylan. She also raised her granddaughters Mahya and Callie from the time they were babies and loved them like her own. She was a hard-working woman who worked everyday just to provide for her children when they were still young and for her grandchildren.
She was proud of her grandchildren and did what she could for them. Each and every one of them were proud of their grandmother too. The older ones were out to please and make her proud in sports and also just being one of hers.
Aline worked for the Cheyenne Language Linguistics organization for many years. She attended Linguistics Training for Native Languages in Phoenix, Arizona. She was very serious when it came to translating her native language. Once telling her daughter when asked why it takes so long to translate a verse from the Bible, Aline told her “When you translate the Bible it takes time you can’t just translate it anyway you want. The words and verses in the Bible cannot be replaced or the meaning cannot be changed in any way.”
In 1996 Aline received her CDL and worked for the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Schools in Busby then most recently Lame Deer Public Schools (2017). She also drove bus for various other schools, St. Labre (First Student), Colstrip, and Hardin. She took driving bus serious especially for the safety of the school children. She would often worry and get upset because of the semi trucks that would pass by the red lights on her bus as she was either picking up or dropping students off.
Throughout her life she loved and played the game of softball. She played with her team the Cheyenne Suns for many years winning many 1st place trophies with them. They played in the leagues in Colstrip and Hardin. The team consisted of her and all her sisters. She was very competitive and was very serious when it came to playing the game her position was Short stop. She also loved watching her son Dylan play baseball when he played making it to every one of his games.
Another sport she enjoyed was bowling even making it to Las Vegas in 2009 to bowl in the National Native American Bowling Tournament. She bowled doubles and singles that time with her daughter Diandra.
She was into her music especially while cooking and working in her yard keeping her lawn looking nice. At times, her children waking up to her listening to music. Her hobbies included beadwork and playing bingo. She often sit and stare out her window while drinking her coffee.
Our Mother, Ota’taveenova’e was always full of encouragement always stressing about being better like furthering our education to be successful. When her daughter Diandra wanted to get her bachelor’s degree she was there nearly every day to help in any way she could to help her be successful in obtaining her degree. She not only encouraged her children and grandchildren but others that she became friends with. Going back to college was a goal that she always talked about achieving.
In 2019 she was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Atrophy. A rare form of dementia that affects people between the ages of 40 to 60 years old. This condition is very progressive. After her diagnosis it was clear that the progression was already making it hard for our mother. She began to lose her ability to speak her Cheyenne language.
Aline is preceded in death by her grandma Ke’eehe Alice Risingsun Russell and grandfather John Russell, Sr., her parents, two unborn children, a brother Leroy Brady, Sr., sisters Laverna Wallowing and Leanne Little Bear, her Aunts Elsie and Agnes, her Uncles John Russell, Jr. , Eugene Russell. and her good friend Louise Bigback-Price.
Aline is survived by her children Diandra (Wallis) Headswift of Busby, JD (Montoya) Littlewhiteman of Birney, Allison (Kipp) Littlewhiteman of Lame Deer, Dylan of the family home, and Mahya and Callie whom she raised. Her adopted daughter Anya (Wendell) Shoulderblade of Colstrip and adopted son Merrle Paddock of Arizona. Her siblings, she was especially close to her younger sister Jenny Killsontop who was always willing to go above and beyond during her illness. She is also survived by her grandchildren Cianna Russell, Tharyn, Hayden, and Madilynn Headswift, Hadrien Spotted Wolf, Elva Elsie Littlewhiteman, Evohna Littlewhiteman, Echo Little Bear, Tylen Paddock; and great granddaughter Rynleigh Russell. She is also survived by her softball teammates of the Cheyenne Suns and many friends that she made throughout her life.
A special thank you to Dr. Cousins, Dr. Smith, Sabel Kerzman, and Dr. Kayla McKinney.