Ernestine J. Bell

Nov 30, 2012 Staff

Ernestine J. Bell died Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and other relatives in Pine Ridge, S.D. She was 83 years old.

Final services and ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Slim Buttes Episcopal Cemetery, 16 miles from Pine Ridge, S.D.

Ernestine Joyce Bell was born Nov. 12, 1929, in Sturgis, S.D. Her Indian name was Mato Paha Win (Bear Butte Woman).

In her younger days, she was an excellent horseback rider. She used to ride as a barrel racer and helped with her family's cattle, herding and branding. She also danced old-style fancy shawl, traveled to the various powwows and sang with a powerful voice behind the drums. She also recorded an album singing backup in the early 1970s.

Her family said she would help people in their times of need. She was also known for her star quilt making.

Her family said she enjoyed life, being with her grandchildren and playing bingo. She enjoyed listening to the North Bear Singers (Jermam'e and Luke Bell) and would sit behind them when at a powwow. When not sewing, she would visit her children and grandchildren, going back and forth between South Dakota and Wyoming. She would take part or help in various traditional events, such as sundances, sweat lodges, etc.

She was survived by her children, Duane R. Bell Sr. and his wife Sadie of Riverton, Aloysious J. Bell Sr. of Riverton, Harold L. "Jake" Bell and his wife Isabelle of Riverton, Tyrone S. Bell and his wife Lena of Crow Agency, Mont., Phillip Gary Bell of Lander, Rhonda H. Bell-Mom'son and her husband Ron of Pine Ridge, S.D., and hunka son Johnny Gilliam I.J. Kent of Nashville, Tenn.; two special grandchildren; great-granddaughter Roberta Lena Joyce Bell; great-great-granddaughter Abbe Angelique Bell; brothers Chief Oliver Red Cloud, Floyd Hand and Elton Hand all of Pine Ridge, S.D.; sisters Rita Blindman-Holy Dance, Beatrice Weasal Bear-Holy Dance of Slim Buttes, S.D., Arlene Hand-Jones of Pine Ridge, S.D., and Margie Hand of Minnesota; and more than 100 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren and 29 great-greatgrandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her daughters, Abigail "Abbe" Bell and Gloria Bell-Willow; mother Bessie Brings; stepfather Austin Backward Sr.; father Edward Red Feather; grandparents Jerome and Alice Wolf Ears; brothers Rex Long Visitor-Holy Dance and Irby Hand; husbands Norman Brown Eyes and Edward James Bell; sisters Goldie Little Crow, Jeanette Caldwell, Shirley Piper and Virginia Brown Eyes; grandsons Jerome Bell and George and Ronnie Willow; granddaughters Cindy Bell and Ohitikawin Alexis Garnder; Ernest and Lucille Willow; and numerous other relatives.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Davis Funeral Home of Riverton. Online condolences may be left at

Print Story
Read The Ranger...