Ricky (Rick) James Robinson, Vooheheve, “Dull Knife”, age 61, was surrounded by family and friends, when he went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Rick was born on June 26, 1956, the seventh child of Cornelius Clayton “Bee” and Stella Joan Robinson of Lame Deer, Montana. In his early years, Rick’s older sisters remember cuddling him as he stared up at them with his beautiful blue eyes. Rick’s other siblings recall him spending most of his childhood, playing with his brothers, sisters, cousins and friends, fishing at Lame Deer Creek, hiking around Clay and Ice Cream Hills and ice skating in downtown Lame Deer before the family moved to their ranch home in Ashland.
At an early age Rick showed his love for animals of all sorts and we learned to put up with whatever he brought in from outside. One of his most outstanding pets was a tiny fawn whose mother had been shot. He fed and raised his pet that often was seen sitting with the kids and watching TV. His hardest time was when he had to take it out into the hills to turn it loose to become an adult and he hoped with all his heart it would grow and be happy.
Showing his early leadership skills, Rick would convince his brothers and cousins on a long, hot summer’s day of stacking hay to jump in the pick-up, roll up the windows and crank up the heat. He’d then drive the crew through the fields to Tongue River, throw open the door and hurl himself off the embankment into the cool water below. All the brothers and cousins would follow suit.
Rick was a good student at St. Labre Indian School. In addition to his academics he also played high school basketball, football, and ran track. His strength was running short distance at lightning speed. However, Rick’s real passion was music. He played guitar and sang. He and his friends would perform at their high school assemblies and pep rallies.
After high school Rick and his friends formed a band called the Renegades. With his friends, Rick sang and played guitar at local hot spots, resulting in an avid group of fans that followed them around from gig to gig. But, it was his pipefitting apprenticeship in Colstrip that paid the bills.
Rick attended Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. It was here that he met Shirl Pinto on the track field. Shirl remembers saying hi to him, but Rick was too shy to reply. They each walked separate directions before looking back and “checking one another out”; which was both embarrassing and funny. Shortly into their romance, Rick drove to New Mexico to ask Shirl’s dad for her hand in marriage. The two were wed on April 29, 1981 and returned to Lame Deer to build their careers and family.
Faith played a significant role in Rick’s life. His siblings recall Rick was always searching and once he discovered his faith, he found what he’d been looking for. Rick’s devotion to God and the church gave him direction and purpose. From that point forward he dedicated himself to a life of service. Rick had a strong listening ear, a gentle hug, a playful smile (especially when he knew he’d pulled one over on you), a wealth of jokes, and strong convictions about politics (which always invited lively debate). A significant part of his identity was revealed when he brought the Boys and Girls Club to the Northern Cheyenne Nation.
When Rick decided to run for Tribal Council he truly believed that if he were elected he was supposed to use his time to benefit Tribal members. He decided the longest and best benefit would be to help our youth and so he worked hard to bring about the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. Through it our children not only played but they were taught various skills and games and they were fed and they were loved. They learned they had potential and how to achieve it, but most of all they had fun. His efforts were so successful he was asked to other Reservations to help them start their own Clubs. What he did and what is being carried on now will benefit our Tribe for the rest of their lives.
Of all his accomplishments, his greatest are his children: Terrell Luke Robinson (affectionately called Shoobs) and Nizhoni Reka Robinson (affectionately called Plums). Terrell and Nizhoni recall one of their favorite moments was when they were little and their dad would return home from work. They’d make him go to the other side of the house just so they could run full force into his arms and fill him with hugs and kisses. They continued to fill his cup with love. Rick beamed with pride when Nizhoni graduated from Rocky Mountain College and when Terrell married Madonna Real Bird and blessed Rick with grandchildren, Whitney and Reese.
He is preceded in death by so many of his beloved relatives we have no room to print their names but he loved them dearly, most especially his parents, C.C. “Hun hom” (Bee) Robinson, Stella Joan Parker Robinson, his sister, Mary Lou Whitecrane, and brother, Larry Dean Robinson.
He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, siblings: Vonda (Francis) Limpy, Sandy (Zane) Spang, Boyd (Julie), Rodney (Jennifer), Gerry (Connie), Major (Michelle), and Carl (Tammy) Robinson, paternal Aunt Juanita TT Lonebear, mother in law, Emma Rose Pinto from Vanderwagon, New Mexico.
Reservation families are so large and ours also contain Lakota and Chippewa Cree bloodlines. We will attempt to include all family surnames but I believe he looked at the Northern Cheyenne Tribe as his family – as do us all: Harris, Limpy, Spang. Beartusk, Parker, LaRance, Lone Bear, Fraser, Rowland, White Crane, Tallwhiteman, Yellowfox, Rochelle, Howie, are some of the many family names Rick shared. In this time of grief we may have missed some names but please know you are in our hearts.