Harold “Grizzly Bear – xáxaac” Jerome Walker Jr. peacefully crossed over to ‘éey’snin wéetes (Happy Land) on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. He was 60 years old. He loved life, loved his family, and loved that he came from this beautiful land here in Idaho. He was a proud Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) tribal member, being one of the last full-blooded Nez Perce.
He was born in Grangeville on June 28, 1959, to Beulah “Billy” Oatman and Harold Jerome Walker Sr. He descended from the WhiteBird – lamtáama, Lookingglass – qemnéqe’, and too-hool-hool-zote band. xáxaac, or better known as Grizz, was an avid hunter and fisherman of the Nimiipuu Land. He often joked that his forever home was along Clear Creek, right next to Lookingglass campsite. He had many memories along the creek, fishing, hunting, and just being with his beloved relatives and friends.
“Grizzly Bear” loved telling his stories of night fishing the Middle Fork of the Clearwater and Selway rivers. It’s a lost art. Fishing to Grizz was about timing, and he, along with his brothers were shown the holes and times of when and where to best fish.
He loved floating down the Selway and Clearwater rivers, something he carried onto his fatherhood. All of the nieces and nephews knew that “Uncle Grizz” would get his tubes ready for both the winter and summer months in the Kooskia/Kamiah valleys. He was so loved by all his family!
Grizz was taught how to test his strength and endurance by walking on the bottom of the Clearwater River. His cousins and relatives would see who could last the longest underwater by carrying boulder rocks racing on the bottom of the river. This was most often done right under the old Kooskia bridge. His brothers and him have many memories of jumping off the old Kooskia bridge, floating by, and living from the special river – káyxkaynim kúus.
Grizz went to grade school and high school in Kamiah and although he did not get his diploma there, all of his Kamiah classmates knew him his whole life and considered them all family!
Grizz obtained his GED from LCSC and then attended Lewis-Clark State College Mechanic School where he solidified his love and skills for automobiles. Everyone knew they could call on him for their car troubles, and mechanics were often surprised when he knew what was wrong with his rig and could not outsmart him.
His love for being out on the land, fishing, hunting, and harvesting strengthened his relationships with those who surrounded him. He never hesitated to share his knowledge or love for the land, especially fishing and hunting. He showed his unconditional love to all and could always add a smile or laugh to your day.
He is survived by his brothers Gary Peters (Yakama), Marilyn Peters (Kooskia), and Ladonna Peters (Kamiah), Paula and Adrian Moody (Culdesac), Linda Belle Walker (Kamiah) and Roy Walker (along the rivers), Mike Forseman (Nez Perce), and Penny Sue Moffett (Kooskia). He is survived by his children Ivy Walker (San Francisco, Calif.), Alexis Walker (Lapwai), Bessie Walker (Lapwai), Althea and Monica Walker-Ortiz (Chandler, Ariz.), Christine Walker and Mike Largin (Phoenix, Ariz.), Aleck Walker (California), and Ray Sanchey (WhiteSwan, Wash.). He leaves his legacy to grandchildren Farley EagleSpeaker, Weliix Lookingglass, Hiyk’iwn Walker, Jaycee Sanchey, and Mia Largin.
He is preceded in death by his mother Beulah “Billy” Oatman, father Harold Jerome Walker Sr., piláqa (mother’s father) Enoch Oatman, qáaca (mother’s mother) Annie Smith Parting, qaláca (father’s father) Lynus “Poppo” Walker, and ’éele (father’s mother) Isabelle Moody, sisters Barbara Jackson, Tamzen “Tami” Walker and Simone LaSarte Rodriguez, brother Tracy “Buzz” Walker Sr., nephews Oren James Elwell III, and James “Tiskat” Walker.
A dressing took place on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the Wa-A-Yas Community Center in Kamiah. Walasat Services followed on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Wa-A-Yas Community Center, dinner to follow. Sunrise services took place on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Wa-A-Yas Community Center. Burial followed at the family cemetery – Nicodemus Cemetery in Kooskia. Giveaway and feast followed at the Wa-A-Yas Community Center.
The family would like to express their love and gratitude to Velveeta “Beebus” Hunt, Linda Belle Walker, Korena Popp, Amy Wilcox, and the Grangeville Hospice nurses who helped care for Grizz in his last days.