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'Huge void in the community': CSKT tribal elder Tony Incashola Sr. dies; funeral set for Friday

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Tony Incashola Sr., director of the Selis Qlispe Culture Committee and revered tribal elder, has died.

Selis-Qlispe tribal elder Tony Incashola Sr., a tireless advocate for the preservation of language and culture, died Tuesday. He was 75. 

Incashola served as the director of the Selis-Qlispe Culture Committee since 1995 and began working with the committee around the time it was created in 1975. 

Under his leadership, the culture committee gained regional, national and international recognition for its work in language, history and ethno geography. As director, Incashola also led consultations with various governmental entities and organizations. Members of the Selis-Qlispe Elders Cultural Advisory Council regarded Incashola as a chief.

A Vietnam War veteran and former tribal councilman, Incashola was also the first Native American to open a session of Congress with a prayer, according to a news release from the tribes. 

Tom McDonald, chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, likened Incashola’s cultural knowledge to an “encyclopedia” and said his passing leaves “a huge void in the community.” 

Shane Morigeau, who handles communications for the tribes, said Incashola was “inclusive, kind, loving and compassionate.”

“He made me feel that that’s how we are as Selis-Qlispe people, and I prided myself in trying to live like Tony,” he said. “When I think of Selis-Qlispe people and how we live our lives, I think of Tony and how welcoming and respectful he was. He really treated people well.”

The tribal council said in a statement that Incashola “will forever be remembered for his tireless work and dedication to preserve, protect and perpetuate the culture, history and language of our Selis and Qlispe people.”

Flags on the Flathead Reservation were flown at half-staff honoring Incashola. 

Incashola is survived by his wife of 48 years, Denise (Brown), their children Daren, Brian (Aspen), Brandy and Tony Jr. (Kim); foster children, Destry Henderson (Peggy) and Marietta Meuli (Jeff); "special daughter" Marlene Lafromboise; eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many “unofficial” children and grandchildren who felt like family. 

Incashola’s wake will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at the Long House, 71 Blind Barnaby St. in St. Ignatius. He will be buried at Old Catholic Cemetery in St. Ignatius after the services Friday. 

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