'A big Ojibwe guy with a southern accent'

Ron Golden. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Flanagan)

Indian Country Today


Indian Country Today

Ron Golden was a proud Anishinaabe and a proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran

He also had a special place in his heart for those that he cared for most.

Golden, White Earth Nation, was battling cancer when he had contracted COVID-19 in March. Not long after his first cancer-related treatment, Golden had difficulty breathing and wasn’t feeling well causing him to go into the hospital. He tested positive for the novel coronavirus and his illness progressed. It fast-forced him into a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator. He died on March 21. He was 56.

News of his death caused shockwaves in Indian Country because his younger sister is Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. 

Golden, a lifelong Tennessee resident, was the second person in the state to die from the coronavirus and one of the first Native people to succumb to the virus. Flanagan shared the news of her brother’s death and pleaded to the public to take the coronavirus seriously and stay home to protect those most vulnerable.

Flanagan was asked by Golden’s wife, Josie, to be the family spokeswoman. “She wanted to share his story,” Flanagan said. “These aren’t just statistics, these are real people behind these numbers.”

Golden also had a daughter. He was a resident of Goodlettsville, Tenn., where he ran a wrecker service. His second job as a freight truck driver took him across the country.

“He was so proud to be Native, proud to be Anishinabe, proud to be a marine,” Flanagan said of her brother. “He had an incredible heart and love for his family, that’s just who he was.”

Golden and Flanagan first connected about 15 years ago. “He was a big Ojibwe guy with a southern accent, just delightful,” she recalled.

Ron and Josie Golden. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Flanagan)

Golden spent weeks in White Earth earlier this year to help tend to their father, Marvin Manypenny. Golden had been by his father’s side when Manypenny was in the hospital and after he transitioned to hospice care at his White Earth home. The land rights and sovereignty activist passed away in late January at age 72.

“He was literally there until our dad took his last breath,” Flanagan said. “He said it was my duty and my honor as a marine to stay with our dad until we bury him.”

Almost two months after his father’s death, Golden had passed away.

Flanagan said the family will hold a memorial service in the future for her brother in Tennessee and will scatter his ashes next to their dad in White Earth Nation.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Laurie Nape Wheeler
Laurie Nape Wheeler

Honoring a 1st Nations Relative that wa loat way to soon! He was a Warrior not only for humanity, a country that did not treat his people well, but through his example setting, and standing strong as an
Anishinaabe, can truly make a difference, in not o ly walking his talk, but also praying for changes on Turtle Island.
Also prayers for his whole family in losing 2 warriors just months apart!! This truly made my heart hurt for his family, and all those that loved him. I KNOW his Father was honored by their people and Nation at his home.
Wopila for the small voice here.
Toksa Napewaste'win