Benjamin Maurice Bonga, “Ma’iingaans” Age 48, of Bemidji, Minnesota began his journey to the spirit world from the Sanford Hospital in Bemidji, MN on Thursday, March 19th, 2020 leaving behind special memories with those that knew and loved him to cherish until that day when they meet again. He was born on January 22, 1972 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Marilyn (Park) and Robert Bonga.
Ben spent all his young life in Plymouth, MI following his dad around construction sites and at the age of 10 began working alongside him. Ben became a skilled craftsman and carpenter, learning everything he knew from his dad. After high school, Ben began sharing his amazing voice on many different drums on the powwow circuit in Michigan, Wisconsin and later throughout Minnesota where he sang on the drum and danced. He had been singing at ceremonies for many years. He was well-known for his singing voice and was sought after by many. Ben moved to Minnesota and worked in the trades while learning the Ojibwe language and his Ojibwe traditions from the elders. He got his degree from the Red Lake Nation College. He spent half his life learning the language and the traditions so he could pass it on to others. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge of his culture so much that he took a job at the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School where he worked with the Niigaane Immersion program as an Ojibwe Teacher of language and traditions; he was quite fluent in the language and he loved to teach the kids. Ben loved to hunt, trap and fish and was very knowledgeable about the plants and trees in the woods where he spent a lot of his time. He was never at a loss for words. He was constantly making people laugh and having fun; but he devoted his life to helping others. Ben loved music and it seemed that he knew the words to every song. He was a good, kind-hearted man that is going to be missed by everyone who knew him.
He is welcomed to the spirit world by his grandparents, Ruth Henning, Maurice Park and Dorothy and Henry Bonga, Sr., several aunts and uncles and many other family and friends.
Family he leaves behind to carry on his legacy are his wife, Bev of Bemidji; parents, Marilyn and Robert Bonga of Plymouth, MI; brothers, Robert N. (Laura) Bonga II and Christopher L. Bonga both of Plymouth, MI; nieces, Gianna, Chloe, Brooklyn and Isabella; uncles, Herbert (Dianne) Park, Henry (Carol) Bonga, Jr., many other relatives and friends.
An overnight wake for Ben will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22nd and continue until his 10:00 a.m. traditional service on Monday, March 21st all to be held at the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Cass Lake, MN. Ginew Giishick and Zac Earley will be his Spiritual Advisors. Pallbearers for Ben are Ty Stately, David “Muskrat” Manuel, Rod Northbird, Floyd “Buck” Jourdain, Don Kingbird and Kelly Iceman. His honorary pallbearers are all his family and friends. Interment will be in the Prince of Peace Cemetery at Cass Lake, MN.
Ben’s care has been entrusted to Northern Peace Funeral Home of Walker, MN. Online condolences for the family may be left at www.northernpeace.com
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