On Thursday, July 8 Maheo called Cecelia Big Back home. Vehona (Leading Woman) was born on March 17, 1935 to John Big Back and Nina Standing Elk-Big Back. She was born and welcomed to this world in a tent on her Northern Cheyenne homelands. She attended Lame Deer Public School. She spent two years at St. Labre Catholic Indian School and graduated from Freeman Academy Mennonite School in Freeman, South Dakota in 1956. She went on to receive higher education at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma and Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana. She received her Secretarial Science Degree from Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Montana in Spring 1987. She received her Nursing Assistant Certificate and CPR/BLS. She also volunteered as a receptionist at Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana; Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Havre, Montana; and Community Health Center in Lame Deer, Montana.
She worked for five years at Ashland Administration. She also spent five years making Johnny Doll at Guild Arts and Crafts. She worked as a Switchboard Operator for the Public Health Service. She was a Clerk/Typist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She served as secretary for the Northern Cheyenne Social Services and Northern Cheyenne Vocational Rehabilitation program. She began as a Generalist for the Community Health Representatives in Lame Deer, Montana. Then she became a full-time secretary at CHRs in 1989 this is where she spent the majority of her career (26 years). After that, she served as the Resident Manager at the Shoulderblade Elderly Complex for four years. Before retirement, she dedicated one year to the LIHEAP Office in Lame Deer through Experience Works, which is a program designed to support older aged people who still want to work.
Cecelia enjoyed sewing, knitting, cooking, reading, playing Bingo, and she liked to gamble once in a while. She was known to take an occasional trip to the slots in Deadwood, South Dakota. She liked watching Western movies and listening to country music. She loved listening to Cheyenne music, especially sundance songs. We can not forget her pastime of watching Asian movies with subtitles. Visiting with her you always walked away learning something you never knew. She was known as a “sweet lady.” (Efficient, prompt, organized, reliable.)
Cecelia is preceded in death by her parents, Nina and John; two infant daughters, her brothers, Eugene Big Back, Sr., Steven Big Back, Major Big Back, and Baby John Big Back; her sisters, OraJune Edwards, Nancy Mae Big Back, Bertha Limberhand, and Louise Big Back; her heart broke when her boys, Daniel and Timothy; Mabeline and Beatrice Ann. She is also preceded in death by her grandson Daniel Limberhand, Jr. Many of her good friends and lifelong coworkers have already made their journey home.
Cecelia is survived by her son, Elmore (Gladys) Limberhand III; her special grandson who was like a son to her Terry “Jay” Big Back; and her daughter, Lori (Issaacc) Ann Walks Along. She is survived by her step-children June Limberhand, Doris Limberhand-Bad Brave, and Faron Limberhand. She is also survived by her sister Marie Littlewolf and adopted sister Virginia Toews. Cecelia had 17 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and 12 great, great grandchildren and three great great grandkids. Cecelia wanted to recognize three special people in her life: her sister-in-law, Clarice Baker-Big Back, her ex-daughter-in-law, Charlene Latrell, and her daughter-in-law Malinda Harris for taking care of her and Tim when they were in a wheelchair and walker, going to appointments in Billings. She also wanted to recognize her lifelong friends, Evelyn Gardner (Lame Deer, MT) and Darlene and Norman Hofer (Freeman, SD).
We are descendants of Chief Eugene Standing Elk who was one of the original Four Chiefs on the Council of 44. Our relatives include the following families: Big Back, Standing Elk, Yellowfox, Elk Shoulder, Walks Last, Little Wolf, Limberhands, Beckman, Yellowrobe, Walks Along, Shoulderblade, Whitewolf, Fighting Bear, Sandcrane (Washington) and Dives Backwards families.
Heartfelt thanks to Martha Burton and Larna Spotted Elk for helping with medication, cheering her up and coming to check on her.
We have a very large family and we apologize if we forgot to mention you by name.