I’m often asked what life was like after Carlisle for former students. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs discusses what life held for 50 star football players, most of whom had children and grandchildren. Now, I’m learning more about their descendants. Recently, I received word that Sam Bird’s great granddaughter, Denise Juneau, is running for re-election for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Montana. She is the first American Indian to hold a statewide executive position in Montana. Sam Bird promoted education for his children and grandchildren. Denise is a product of his efforts.
Sam Bird was captain on the great 1911 Carlisle Indian School football team. After leaving Carlisle, Sam returned home to Browning, Montana where he ran the family ranching operation, married a Carlise girl, and raised a family. Sam’s daughter, Margie, married a man named Juneau and had a son named Stan. Stan married Carol Cross. Denis is their daughter.
The other side of Denise’s family (Carol Cross Juneau’s family) is from the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota. Carol’s Grandfather, Denise’s Great Grandfather, name was Old Dog and he was the last traditional chief of the Hidatsa. Carol’s father, Denise’s grandfather, name was Martin Old Dog Cross and he was a member of the elected tribal council for more than 20 years and its chairman for 10 of those years. He led the fight against building the Garrison Dam that flooded their reservation, their homeland, and more acres that it was supposed to. Carol’s Brother, Ramon, was the lawyer who fought the Army Corp of Engineers many years later and, with the Supreme Court ruling in his favor, received a nice settlement for the Tribe. Coyote Warrior by Paul Vandevelder is a history of the family and also of the Supreme Court decision.
It’s not hard to see how Denise Juneau has achieved so much after seeing her bloodlines.