Sean L. Fahrlander - 49 of Hayward, Wisconsin

Sean L. Fahrlander, age 49, of Hayward, passed away Thursday, March 16, 2017 at his home.

 Sean Lee Fahrlander, whose Ojibwe names were Niso-asin (Three Stones) and Niizho-migiziwag (Two Eagles), passed away unexpectedly in the early morning of March 16, 2017. He was 49 years old. Born on April 26, 1967, to Donald Fahrlander and Bonnie Shingobe, Sean grew up as the baby in a big blended family, raised by his mother and step-father, Buck Samuelson, in the company of brothers Jay, John, Mark, and Mike and sisters Denise, Dayna, and Dawn. Most of his early years were spent in the village of Ebro on the White Earth Reservation, although he attended school in Bagley, Minnesota. At 6’4”, he made an imposing basketball player and was well-known across the state for his skills on the court. He moved to Cass Lake half way through high school and graduated from there in 1985. Turning down collegiate sport scholarships, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1986, and served honorably as a Navy air traffic controller until discharge in 1990. His service spanned both peacetime and the Gulf War eras. He was a sailor who swore like a sailor and sometimes drank like one too. In the end, he was the loud, obnoxious uncle everyone couldn't help but love.
Sean had a range of talents and passions to engage everyone on the planet, from how Hannibal developed the first double-envelopment in modern warfare to how to use a hatchet to clunk an alternator back into operation, the meaning of life, and how to be a friend. He had an uncanny knack for problem solving, tinkering on cars, and construction projects. He fixed many but never doubted that he could fix them all. As a boathouse worker at Tom’s Resort, he perfected the art of filleting walleyes, and from his adopted uncle, Warren Tibbetts, the science of the Ojibwe sugarbush. He was a man of the woods and a man of words. He shot at a lot of deer, and he knocked many down, but the stories he told made it seem like carnage on a biblical scale. He was never very calm, even when not under pressure, but it made everything he said and did all the more animated and larger than life. He could tell the best drunk stories and the best traditional Ojibwe legends. Sean was a loyal friend who couldn't tolerate anyone saying a single disparaging word when you weren't there, though he often let you have it when you were.
After his service in the Navy, Sean attended Leech Lake Tribal College and became their very first graduate. He married Val Tanner and they soon had a daughter, Janica Lou Tanner-Fahrlander. Although his marriage didn’t last, his love for his daughter remained unassailable. He loved life and he knew what love meant. Eventually Sean met his life partner, Brooke Ammann, and together they had two children—Tecumseh and Osceola Fahrlander. Upon the birth of his granddaughter, Bonnie, the entire family celebrated, thankful to Sean for being the tie that bound this big, beautiful family together.
Sean was an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a member of the bear clan, but he grew up without having Ojibwe language and culture handed to him on a silver platter. Instead, Sean pursued an Ojibwe ceremonial life, medicinal knowledge, and music; and he lived a truly spiritual life. He was initiated into the medicine dance four times, and seated on two ceremonial drums at White Earth and one on the St. Croix Reservation—a true testament to the faith that other cultural carriers placed in his knowledge and service. Sean was genuinely admired by his elders and young people alike. He applied himself for the last several years of life to fundraising and volunteering at the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion School in Reserve, Wisconsin.
Sean’s amazing life was profiled in the book Rez Life and some of his stories were published in journals. Always generous with his time and knowledge, Sean touched many, many lives. Familiar with the many struggles of human existence, he judged no one and was always ready to help anyone who needed support. He will be forever remembered for his deep, brilliant mind, his hilarious disposition, outrageous laugh, and deep, loud voice. There are many people grieving Sean’s passing because he was the remarkable partner, father, and friend that only comes once in a lifetime.
Sean is survived by his partner, Brooke Mosay Ammann, his children, Janica Tanner-Fahrlander, Tecumseh Fahrlander, and Osceola Fahrlander, his treasured nephew, Dustin (Lynn) Burnette, one grandchild, his mother, all of his siblings, and many nieces and nephews: Tanner, Hannah, Tyler, Hayden, Haley, Desrick, Jordan, Marissa, Lewis, Katrina, Phillip, Brandy, Joey, Emily, Stormy, Gideon, John, and Anna. Sean was an uncle, grandfather, son, and namesake for hundreds of people, too numerous to list.
Sean was preceded by his Uncles Dennis and Vincent, his stepfather Buck Samuelson, his father Donald Fahrlander, and his Gramma Bernice.
Midewiwin Funeral Rites were held on Monday, March 20, 2017 at Pineview Funeral Service in Hayward with Waasabiik Anna Gibbs, Waagosh Anton Treuer and Waawaakeyaash Keller Paap officiating. Burial was in Balsam Lake, WI.
Honorary Casket Bearers were Patrick Fowler, Jr., Thomas Fowler, Chato Gonzalez, Dylan Jennings and Micah Treuer.
Casket bearers were Mark Montano, Sr., James Schlender, Jr., Jason Schlender, Kekek Stark, Michael Sullivan, Sr. and David Treuer.
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