Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door



AKWESASNE – Philip H. Tarbell, Jr., 79, of State Route 37C, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, December 16, 2021 at his home.

Phil was born on January 4, 1942 in Syracuse, the son of the late Philip H. and Sarah (Tarbell) Tarbell. He attended Salmon River Central School, where he graduated in 1959. After high school, he entered the United States Marine Corps, proudly serving his country until his honorable discharge in 1963. He continued his education at Hartwick College, where he was a math major earning his Bachelors' Degree. In 1969, he married Jane Lahey. They were blessed with two sons before their marriage ended in divorce.

In 1993, he was elected a Sub-Chief with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe for a year before being elected a Tribal Chief, serving until 1997. Prior to becoming a chief, he worked for the New York State Education Department as an Iroquois Cultural Affairs Specialist in the New York State Museum. More recently, he was a self-employed entrepreneur. He was a lifelong communicant of St. Regis Catholic Church and a member of the Andrew W. Cook American Legion Post #1479 and former member of the Marine Corps League. Throughout his life, Phil was an active runner participating in many marathons. He was an avid history buff and remained active in politics – especially if it involved Native American rights. Additionally, he enjoyed doing carpentry work, golfing, lacrosse, and photography. Perhaps of all his enjoyments, being a Tota meant the most to him.

Phil is survived by his sons and their wives, Brook and Kristin Tarbell of Stoneham, Massachusetts and Jay and Diva Tarbell of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey; his beloved grandchildren, Sarah, Dylan, Althea, and Briar Tarbell; and his chosen children, Lois Tarbell and her children, Skylar Gray and Koral Tarbell-Mitchell; Ian Tarbell and his children, Cameron and Austin Tarbell; and Leah Benedict and her children, Tori, Blaze, Kyra, and Bow Benedict.

He is also survived by his sisters and their spouses, Felicia and Hubert Jock, Janice Tallett, Rosemary Bonaparte, Dianne and Vaughn Aldrich, and Rebecca and Irving Papineau, all of Akwesasne; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sisters and their husbands, Margaret and Richard Jacobs and Phyllis and Gerald David; his brother-in-law, Stanley Tallett; and a nephew, Brad Bonaparte and a niece Maxine Jacobs Benitez.

Friends called at the Donaldson Funeral Home, Massena on Tuesday 2-4 and 6-8:00 PM. Due to COVID restrictions, his funeral mass was held privately at St. Regis Catholic Church. Burial with military honors were held Wednesday 11:30 am at St. Joseph's Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing may consider memorial contributions to be made in his memory to the St. Regis Mohawk Senior Citizens. Friends were encouraged to share memories and offer condolences online at


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