Lyle James Heavy Runner

Lyle James (Little Sorrell Horse) (iina’ko’tsimiotasi) Heavy Runner was born June 24, 1958, in Browning, Mont. He crossed over to the other side on Friday, Oct. 23, at the Benefis Health System in Great Falls, Mont. He was 62 and lived in Great Falls at the time of his passing from Coronavirus. 

Due to the Blackfeet Tribal COVID-19 Ordinance restrictions in place, there will be no wake services, but there will be interment service held at the Ground Family Cemetery west of Starr School on Nov. 4 at approximately 12 noon. 

Lyle was one of 13 children born to Eugene and Gertrude Ground Heavy Runner. His brothers include Eugene, Keith, George (Rena), David, Carl, Glenn, Duane and Kermit. His sisters include Linda, Bonnie, Iris and Gayann (Gilbert).

He is survived by his sons, Nakoa (Alexis) Heavy Runner, Loren (Sarah) Heavy Runner and Glenn Heavy Runner. His grandchildren are Darron Taye, Nakoa Tance Jr., Kiana, Taya Shay, Kyra Jae, Nakeena Cree, Novalee Marie, Kolton and Wyatt. Lyle’s paternal grandparents were George and Angeline White Grass Old Person; his maternal grandparents were John and Mary Guardipee Ground; uncles are Chief Earl Old Person, Jim White Grass, Francis and Teddy Heavy Runner, Kenneth and Noble Old Person, John and Eugene Ground, James Owens, James Walters, and Clarence No Runner; aunts are Eleanor, Alice and Gloria Old Person, Rosalia Walters, Susan Owens, Cecile Schildt, Amy White Grass, Grace No Runner and Abby, Evelyn and Imelda Ground.

Lyle graduated from Browning High School and attended the University of Montana, Flathead Valley Community College (forestry) and Eastern Montana University. While in high school, he was on one of the famous Browning High School cross country teams that won 22 championships. He also set a long-time hurdle record in track and played varsity basketball under Coach Don Wetzel.

He worked for FedEx for 36 years as a courier, manager and dispatcher across Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota and California. As the Montana FedEx dispatcher, he touched the lives of every courier in the state. He helped to change policies within FedEx for the cultural protection and freedom to wear long hair.

Lyle was also very involved in the movement to incorporate tribal participation and histories at the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park in Ulm.

Our family was fortunate in the work Lyle did with Senator Conrad Burns to obtain the World War II medals that his father, Eugene, earned during his time of military service. A ceremony was held at the Great Falls airport in April of 2006, and the medals was presented to his wife by Senator Burns

Lyle met his soulmate, Tracy Leigh Poole, and they spent time sharing his interests and hobbies and planning a life together. Lyle was an avid fisherman, hunter, tanned buffalo hides, loved to cook, shopped antique stores and mined for sapphires. In August of 2010, Lyle was transferred the right to paint tipis by Robert L. and Naomi Crawford. They were commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum to do a 28-foot tipi that toured the US. Naomi said, “You only showed Lyle something once, and he would make a perfect cut on the door and linings.” 

An annual highlight of his summer was setting up his camp next to his mother’s at North American Indian Days every year and making a place for visitors, friends and relatives to visit and enjoy sharing a meal together. 

After many years, Lyle was planning to get back in the arena and start dancing again as he was making plans for his new dancing outfit. He will be missed dearly by all who loved him and were touched by his generosity and friendship.