Joanne Donald (Zaa
We Bi Ne Siik “Yellow
Bird”) passed on to the
spirit world on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.
was born on November
2, 1935 and raised on
the Nett Lake Indian Reservation (Bois Forte).
Joanne moved to Lake Vermilion (Bois Forte)
with her husband Gary W. Donald in 1978.
Joanne graduated from the Orr High School in
1953. She went to work in the area of education
as the Home School Coordinator at the Orr High
School, the Home School Liaison in the Bemidji
Public School System and then as the Education
Director for the Bois Forte Reservation. Joanne
had a strong interest in helping youths in pursuing
their education. Joanne was very intelligent and
had a lot of wisdom. She was also very outspoken
and knowledgeable in the world of tribal politics
She was an excellent cook, loved watching the
Food Network and reading cookbooks. Some of
her other interests included being with her husband
out in the woods of Bois Forte gathering berries,
harvesting and picking wild rice and listening to
pow wow and country and western music.
Joanne enjoyed spending time with family
and especially her grandchildren and great
grandchildren whom she loved dearly. Joanne’s
main focus in life was her entire family.
She is preceded in death by her daughter Coleen
Lynn Donald Jennings; her mother Emma Strong;
brothers, Herbert and Reginald Strong; a sister
Clara Whiteman and several nieces and nephews.
Joanne is survived by her husband of 60 years,
Gary W. Donald; daughters- Gayle (Jim) Littlewolf
of Bemidji, Leigh Ann Donald, and Carolyn
Donald, both of Tower; Grandchildren: Wenona
(Don) Kingbird, Jamie (Billy Joe) Copenace
both of Bemidji, Andrea (Hershel) Gorham of
Oklahoma, Joanna Boyer of Zim, Jessa Boyer
of Minneapolis, Emma Lee Jennings of Cass
Lake, and Gary Proudchief of Bemidji; Great
Grandchildren, Amayah Jo Littlewolf, Aazhidegiizhig
Kingbird, River Sonny James Kingbird,
Brynnley Ella Copenace all of Bemidji, Nehoni
Animikii Gorham of Oklahoma, Evolet Bodhi
Joanne Mayo of Minneapolis, Gary Wayne Donald
III, and Coleen Jade Proudchief both of Bemidji;
a brother Wilbert Strong of Nett Lake, along with
numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
SERVICES: At Joanne’s request there will be no
funeral services. Her family is lovingly honoring
her wish. Arrangements are with the Mlaker
Funeral Home in Cook. To sign the online guest
book or send a condolence to the family, go to: