A Message from the Law School on Brent Kary

Brent Kary


All of us at the School of Law were deeply saddened to hear of Brent Kary’s passing on July 17, 2010, after an admirable and valiant battle against cancer.

Brent, a 2008 graduate of UND School of Law, was a fine attorney and an even finer person.

I want to thank Phyllis Trelfa for capturing what so many of us are feeling in the following short tribute to Brent.


Kathryn R.L. Rand
Dean & Floyd B. Sperry Professor



There is a hush in the law school today. It seems to have come suddenly, albeit expectedly. The quiet comes as we collectively, each in our own way, remember the life of our friend, Brent Kary.

From the moment Brent arrived at the School of Law, through to his commencement, and his subsequent visits to UND since that time, he brought with him a brightness of spirit that shall be all but impossible to replace.

In searching for words that could possibly capture the essence of Brent’s life, the following was discovered:

So live your life that the fear
of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

Chief Tecumseh (Crouching Tiger) Shawnee Nation 1768-1813

You were our hero, Brent. We shall miss you.

Phyllis Trelfa

Brent Kary

View original obituary

Brent A. Kary (Mahto Numpa), 41, left behind many happy memories for his numerous friends and relatives when he left this world on July 17, 2010. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, July 23, at 10:00 a.m. at the Spirit of Life Catholic Church, 801 1st SE, Mandan. Visitation will be held on Thursday, July 22, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck. A rosary and vigil service will be held on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at the Spirit of Life Catholic Church. Interment will be at the Mandan Union Cemetery and a feed and giveaway will follow at the Spirit of Life Church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be sent to the Kay Murphy Cancer Fund at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Brent KaryBrent was born on December 10, 1968, to Joe and Marilyn Sharon (Iron Shield) Kary in Solen, N.D. He grew up there and attended Solen-Cannonball Elementary School until the sixth grade, when the family moved to Bismarck. Brent attended Cathedral School and graduated from St. Mary’s Central High School in 1987, where he was active in a variety of activities, including being one of the caretakers of the senior class “Gonzo”. Brent attended the University of Mary, changing majors as often as he changed his socks. He graduated with a B.S. degree in Social and Behavioral Science in 1997. Brent served as the Executive Director of the Peace Pipe Indian Center from 1992-1994; as the Indian Parent Coordinator for the North Dakota Federation of Families from 1995-1997; in various capacities at Sitting Bull College from 1997-1999; and for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from 2000-2005, most notably as the Director of Economic Development.

Brent KaryBrent’s vision and ideas for community and economic development for his Tribe inspired him to go back to college to study law in 2005. He began attending the University of North Dakota School of Law, graduated in May of 2008, and took the bar examination that fall. The weekend before he was to be sworn in to the North Dakota State Bar Association in September of 2008, Brent was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer which had metastasized to the liver, stomach, and lungs. Brent underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatment for many months before receiving a liver resection in Rochester, MN. He recovered well and was cancer-free for several months as he began his legal career as the Tribal Prosecutor for the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation, as part of the law offices of Severin, Ringsak, & Morrow, and his dream job as In-house Attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In January of 2010, Brent found out the cancer had returned. Due to a variety of complications, further treatment was not promising and Brent elected to live out his days at home.

Brent KaryBrent lived his life with few regrets. He loved to conquer new skills and move on to the next interest, not giving up until he become proficient in everything from ice skating to riding bike to break-dancing as a kid, and later at auctioneering, cake decorating, bullriding, Traditional and chicken dancing, singing, and playing/teaching the moccasin game. Brent began playing recreational softball during college and found a passion in it. Brent played on a variety of teams, including Capso, the Blazers, Veracity Motors (where he contributed to a 2007 State Men’s Masters 35 Division III Slowpitch Championship), K&L (where he contributed to another State Championship in 2008), Capital City Construction, Dustex, Elgin-New Leipzig Softball, Thunder, and Buehler-Larson Funeral Home. As frustrating as it was, he also enjoyed teaching and coaching his women cousins and friends on their many different teams throughout the years. Brent loved to tease and took his role as the life of the party seriously, always ready to lead the Macarena at weddings and diffuse tense situations with humor. He had friends from all walks of life and touched many people in his young life.

Brent KaryBrent is survived by one daughter, Shalique, and one son, Drayton; his parents, Joe and Marilyn Sharon Kary, Bismarck; one (biological) sister, Cheryl Kary; nephews, Trevan, Tayson, and Tallon Long Feather; one niece, DaLayne, and a very special granddaughter, Emmerie Ann (“Brentwina”); two other sisters, Tiffany Hodge (hunka) of Bismarck and Shalonda Many Horses of Cannonball; his nephew Jarithe Archambault; and one hunka brother, Michael Roberts of Bismarck.

Brent KaryBrent is also survived by his maternal aunts, Alvina and Pete Red Tomahawk and Justine Parkhurst, both of Cannonball; Lorraine and David Siegfried of Mandan; Beverly Iron Shield of McLaughlin, SD; paternal aunts and uncles, Pat and Gene Hoffman of Webster, SD; Bill and Thelma Kary of Bismarck; Gladys and Gene Thomas of Mandan; Leonard and Carol Kary of Shawano, WI; Betty Lou Kary of Bismarck; Kay and Leslie Ciaverella of Bismarck; and Ivan and Sue Kary of Solen; and by his many, many cousins.

Brent will be welcomed into the Spirit World by his maternal and paternal grandparents, John and Appolonia Kary and Alma (Two Bears) Many Horses; his mentor, friend and Uncle Mark Many Horses; his Uncle Carlton; and his young cousins, Darin Siegfried and (Little) Ivan Kary.