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Indian Country has lost a legend. Emmett Ernest Eastman Sr., Ta Wakanhdi Ota “His Many Lightnings”, was born at the Little Thunder allotment near Sisseton, SD on December 24th, 1931. He passed away on October 4th, 2021 at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, MN.

Emmett lived a humble life as the second oldest child of nine children. He was raised on a farm in Northeast South Dakota and learned the importance of hard work at a very young age. He joined the Air Force, served his country, and was discharged honorably after his years of service. He married Frances Crawford, and together they raised seven children and taught them the importance of family and community.

Emmett was active in the American Indian Movement and the pursuit of social justice in native country and throughout humankind. He found his calling in running. Not only was running good for the mind, body and spirit, but it opened the doors to the world. He ran throughout the globe to bring awareness to the atrocities brought upon every plant, rock, tree and most importantly water after colonization. He advocated for Mother Earth through running.

Emmett is the son of Oliver and Bertha Baine-Eastman and leaves behind a brother, Milton Eastman; sisters Carole Standing Elk, June Pink, and Joyce Rice; his children, Leslie, Lynn, Laurie, Lucille, Frances, Emmett Jr., and Anne; 25 grandchildren, 37 great grandchildren and a new great-great grandson and one on the way. He is preceded in death by his wife, Frances Crawford-Eastman and unborn child Charles Alexander Eastman, daughter Lillian Goodeagle, grandsons Ronald Eastman and Leland Thompson.

Funeral services for Emmett Eastman Sr. will be held on Sunday, October 10th at 11:00 AM at Sisseton Wahpeton College.  Arvol Looking Horse and Ronald Goodeagle, Jr.  will officiate.  The drum group will be Mazakute.  Interment at Goodwill Church Cemetery.

All-night wakes will take place Friday, October 8th and Saturday, October 9th at Sisseton Wahpeton College.  Public viewing will begin at 4:00 P.M. on Friday with a service at 7:00 P.M.  All-night wake will continue through Saturday with a service at 7:00 P.M. on Saturday.

Casket bearers will be Chebon Eastman, Chaske Heminger, Francis Eastman, Jace Eastman, Lincoln Kingbird, Triston Lasley, Nathan Lasley and Tyrin Lasley.

Chilson Funeral Home, Winsted, MN assisted the family with arrangements.  On-line condolences can be made at


9 Guestbook Entries

  1. Susan TallBear

    Condolences to Emmett’s family at this time. Just like so many others…seeing Emmett in the circle always made my heart happy. He is an inspiration to me to live a healthy life and to stay active. He set an amazing example for us to follow. I hope to live as long as Emmett and to keep coming to the circle, ready to dance always. Love and prayers for his family!

  2. Allene Ross

    Always a kind gentle man, you will be missed. Condolences to his loved ones.

  3. Beth Isaiah Danaka & Zane

    Prayers for Emmitt’s journey to the spirit world. Condolences to the Eastman Family

  4. Bruce Eckre

    Emmett was a great guy and I have very fond memories of him in Wahpeton. He will be missed.

  5. Kerry Nelson

    I’ll never forget seeing Emmett run out in the country around Wahpeton, nor when he made it to the Boston Marathon when I was a kid. Many years later, I too became a runner and I often thought of Emmett as I prepared for my first marathon and my first Ironman. I never talked to him, I could have learned so much. May he never be forgotten. Wakan Takan kici un

  6. Darsi webster

    Condolences for your loss and your family. He always smiling n dancing. Huge hugs to the family.

  7. Harlan Still Day

    My sincerest condolences to the family. I’ve known Emmett since I was a student at Wahpeton Indian School. He was a great mentor and I enjoyed our many visits along the powwow trail over the years. Emmett was a honorable man who walked through life in a good way and had a kind heart. He will be missed….

  8. Dr. Dan and Susan Ninham

    Boozhoo Family of Emmett:
    We planned to attend the funeral but chose to stay home to be safe after reading an executive order was issued 10/7/21 to close all tribal programs due to the number of positive COVID19 cases. You all are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time of loss of a true warrior. We have known Emmett since 1988 after meeting him while on a run through Wisconsin. Over the years our paths have crossed at various times during running events or on the pow wow trail. He was a guest in our home too. We will truly miss him.
    We extend our condolences, love hugs and prayers for comfort and healing during this difficult time of loss.
    Dr. Dan and Susan Ninham
    Red Lake, Minnesota

  9. Robert Garvey

    Emmett had a profound impact on my attitude toward life, and this benefitted my wife and three boys, and extended family. I first met him in 1994 and was so enlivened. My Wife passed last Autumn, just prior to Emmett, and I’m comforted to know that she was in good company in her passing. Emmett was was like a Grandpa and good friend, and I only met him once when we went on a long fast walk together, just he and I talking the whole way. Also I listened to him and followed him while running a few times. My condolences to your family and many prayers continue to flow in thanks for Emmett Eastman.
    Robert Garvey
    Des Moines, IA


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