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Judy Ann Harper

Judy Ann Harper

Judy Ann Harper, whose Ojibwe name is "Chi-Ikwe" which means "Great Woman", 67, of Cass Lake died Saturday, May 11, 2013 at her home.

Traditional funeral Services will be 10:00 am, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at the Judy Harper residence located at 16763 65th Ave. NW, Cass Lake with Spiritual Leader Lee Staples. A wake will begin Tuesday, May 14, 2013 and will continue until the time of the service on Wednesday. Interment will be at the St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery in Onigum, MN under the direction of the Cease Family Funeral Home of Cass Lake.

Judy was born August 27, 1945 in Cass Lake, MN the daughter of Alvin and Emily (Thompson) Staples. She grew up and attended school in Cass Lake graduating from Cass Lake H.S in 1963, where she was Homecoming Queen. She married Dennis Harper on June 8, 1963. They moved to Chicago where they lived their lives by helping others. They helped to organize efforts that impacted many parts of our Anishinaabe communities through educational and political arenas. While living in Chicago, they organized the Native American Committee which led to the creation and opening of the Chicago American Indian Center. She worked as an advocate for Native American Mental Health Issues.

In 1973 their family moved back home to Cass Lake, where she continued her role in education and community organizing. She spent many years with the Cass Lake Public Schools, advocating for all children. She and others from the native community organized a public school student walk-out and established the Chief Bug O Nay Ge Shig School at Leech Lake as a way to recognize the importance of our Anishinaabe identity to our educational efforts and which proved to be a model or inspiration for other tribal nations at a time when a path to empowerment was being sought.

She was a very artistic and accomplished seamstress; she loved watching Antiques Roadshow. She was an avid, accomplished and ruthless Scrabble player; another one of her favorite past times was the casino and even her car knew the way there. Her greatest joy in life was her family. Her truest sense of accomplishment came through seeing her family together and watching them grow. She made sure to be a constant role in her grandchildren’s lives. ?She is survived by her 5 genius children Melanie Harper, Jeffrey Harper, Laurie Harper, Leslie Harper, Darren (Josie) Harper, all of Cass Lake; 13 stupendous grandchildren- Leaha, Di’anne, Cole, Jace, Max, Sydney, Corinne, Alex, Jackson, Keenan, Taylor, Brendan, Dennis and Theo, 7 great grandchildren- Leslie, Miika, Ani, Landon, Tavion, Neo and Emily, a brother- Patrick (Deb) Staples of New Town, North Dakota and sisters- Rebecca (Mike) Olson of Eden Prairie, MN, Elizabeth Aitken, of Cass Lake and Kay (Douglas) Jackson of Bemidji, MN and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband in 2008, brother Alan, sister - Heby and grandson Truman. Casketbearers will be Darren Harper, Keenan Humphrey, Taylor Humphrey, Brendan Humphrey, Alex Harper and Adrian Liberty. Condolences may be left at