David Sam

Amik, David Sam, 70-year-old resident of Onamia, MN passed away on Saturday, September 4, 2021, at the Carris Health-Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, MN. Visitation will begin at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, at the District 1 Community Center on the Mille Lacs Reservation. A Funeral Ceremony will begin at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, at the District 1 Community Center on the Mille Lacs Reservation with Gimiwan officiating. Interment will be in the Faith Lutheran Cemetery in Isle, MN. Arrangements are with the Shelley Funeral Chapel of Onamia.

Amik, David Wayne Sam, of Onamia, born November 25, 1950, in Isle, MN to Frank Sam and Dorothy Passehl (Smith). His story is extraordinary, one that cannot be matched. A first language speaker, raised by his grandmother Annie Sam, was directed to learn about living in two worlds, so he could one day come back and make a difference in others’ lives. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Boston and Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow. David was a gifted leader, teacher, spiritual advisor, language instructor, loving father and grandfather, an avid outdoorsman, and Makizin instructor. He loved teaching the ‘healing game’ to young men and his commitment to healing and sobriety guided his life and work. He served on many leadership boards ranging from Indian Education, chemical dependency, to community leadership. He believed in being solution-centered. He was a strong advocate for human rights, sovereignty, and building cross-cultural relationships within our community. With his wife, children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews always at his side, he guided and grounded his family in ceremonies, maple syruping, hunting, snaring, fishing, ricing, birch bark basket making, and blanket making. He was a skilled artist and craftsman. As a professional his most honored position was his recent appointment as the Chief Appellate Court Justice for the Mille Lacs Band, where he could lift up those committed to leadership and service, and help create equitable and cultural change for our community. With pride and excellence, David served as the ML Wastewater Manager for nearly 20 years. David was an exceptional employee, husband, father, friend, and mentor to the world around him.

David is survived by his best friend and wife, Mary; sons, David (Dana), Benji (Candace), Justin; daughters, Annie (Tony), Kevyn (Ted), and Jono, Virgil, Damon, Melonee, and David Shawn; grandchildren, Logan, Lucas, Anthony, Star Love, Millee Rose, Silas, Bazile, and Sophia; many wonderful nieces, nephews, We-ehs, siblings, Fred and Sharon.

David was preceded in death by his parents, adopted mom, Amelia Day; daughter, Dawn Renee; granddaughter, Tanya; hunting partners, Leonard, Bradly, Charlie, Elmer; and siblings, Frank, Paul, Joe, Herb, Isabelle, Adeline, and Donna. David had a knack for making us smile, to be better, and to love more.

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