Barney Old Coyote Jr. (1923 - 2012)

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Barney Old Coyote Jr., 89, of Crow Agency, passed away Aug. 5, 2012.

He was born April 10, 1923 in the Big Horn District. Rich with two sets of parents Barney Old Coyote Sr. and May Takes the Gun, and Alphonse and Susie Childs, he built his wealth through family and is survived by his daughters, Patricia (Pete) Old Coyote Bauerle, Rachel Sue Old Coyote, Jacqueline (John) Old Coyote Logan and Edwina Mae (Michael) Old Coyote; his sons, Kenneth Old Coyote and Bernard Old Coyote III; grandchildren, Caroline Old Coyote, Arlis (Nicole) Bauerle, Patrick (Cecelia) Bauerle, Phenocia (James) Bauerle and Peri (Sevron O'Haire) Bauerle, Twila (Albert) Mae Old Coyote Barlow, Sarah Walters, Michael Henry Old Coyote, Carrie Mariah Old Coyote, Allen James Old Coyote, Saralena Old Coyote and Dale J Old Coyote; his great grandchildren, Kaleigh, Anthony, Ally, and Vincent Bauerle; Taza, Clara, Luke Barlow, Andrew, Austin and Brooke Walters and Alena Mae Old Coyote.

He was proceeded in death by his biological parents, Barney and Mae Old Coyote, adopted parents, Alphonse and Suzie Childs; his cherished wife, Clara (Teboe); siblings, Susannah, Henry "Hank," Dessie, Lloyd "Mickey," John "Melvin" and his children, Alphonse, Cary Dean. He was a beloved grandson, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Barney Old Coyote Jr. was given the name Chiipkalishtahchiash "Small White Buffalo Bull," which is one of the names of the Seven Sacred Buffalo Bulls. These Sacred Beings brought many blessings to the Apsaalooke including one of the Sacred Sweat Lodge Rites and the Sacred Pipe through their sister. As in the tradition of the Apsaalooke, this name had been handed down through the generations.

His lineage is one that is rare and distinguished as a descendant of Sits In the Middle of the Land, Runs Through Camp, Twines His Tail, Magpie on the Outside, Well Known Buffalo, Chief At Night, Mrs. Plenty Hawk, Many Buffalos, Sun Woman, Smart Enemy, Mountain Chief (Pikuni), Frazier, Pierre Duchene (Left Hand), Good Woman (Wife of Sits In The Middle) – Young Man Afraid of His Horses (Sioux).

Barney was born on the Crow Reservation in Montana. He grew up in Beauvais Creek, near St. Xavier. He was a champion bronc rider, trick roper and rider, and an avid outdoorsman. Beginning his education in St. Xavier he attended Hardin High School and Haskell Vocational School in Lawrence, Kan., earning a bachelor's degree from Morning Side College and an Honorary Doctorate from Montana State University. He cherished his country, his family and the Crow way of life.

Throughout his life he worked and reached the highest levels of achievement in both war and peace. Barney became the most decorated American Indian in World War II, enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps with his brother the day after Pearl Harbor at the age of 18. After the war, he continued his education, becoming a revered teacher in the areas of conservation, land management, agricultural engineering, Native American Studies and bilingual education in high schools, adult education and colleges. A leader in Indian education, he was always a champion of causes supporting underprivileged students. Throughout his life, he promoted tribal economic development, inter-tribal trade, and helped found the first Indian-owned National Bank. He served at high levels in the Department of the Interior, advising many United States presidents and other national leaders throughout his many careers.

His World War II military career was marked by high distinctions that he shared with his brother, Henry. Barney was listed in the Stars and Stripes magazine as a recipient on the Soldiers Medal. His military record consists of combat and non-combat medals including the Air Medal with oak clusters, the Sliver Star with cluster, Campaign Medals and several Battle Stars. In 1988, he and his brother, Henry, were co-recipients of the prestigious National Service Award bestowed by the Vietnam Veterans Coalition. Two Congressional medals authorized by the U.S. Mint were presented to Barney, because Henry died 10 days before notification of the award. In November 1999 Barney was an invited guest of the Secretary of the Army as a keynote speaker at the Pentagon and was again awarded recognition for outstanding military service. He has been recognized in the U.S. Capitol Building for his service as a "Code Talker" and has also received distinction as a World War II Flying Ace. His patriotism and love for his country shone throughout his life and career.

After returning from World War II, he was adopted by Joe and Josephine Hill into the Tobacco Society, from which his wealth of family continued to grow. Immediately after the war he met and married the love of his life, Clara Teboe. They remained married for 34 years until her death in 1978.

Reflecting on their safe and unscathed return from combat, Henry and Barney began chronicling stories that embodied the Crow warrior ethic and worldview they felt kept them in good stead. They revisited battle sites, recorded, wrote and translated the tales of legendary warriors. In 2003 "Way of the Warrior: Stories of the Crow People" was published. It is heralded as one of a handful of texts written about Natives, by Natives and edited by a Native. Barney was truly delighted that his granddaughter, Phenocia Bauerle, edited the manuscripts compiled into a published and highly regarded book. He was pleased to see the worldview that guided him in his life be shared with future generations.

In 1964, Barney was appointed as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior under Lyndon B. Johnson. His responsibilities included developing model conservation programs, and development and training associated with the Job Corps. For his outstanding work at the Department of Interior Barney received the Distinguished Service Medal. He worked to see the world changed on many levels. During his time with the U.S. government, he worked in various capacities on the Indian Child Welfare Act, Self-Determination and Education Act and many others. Barney helped pioneer the opening of trade routes to the Pacific Rim for such products as low sulfur coal, wheat, and other potential exports by tribes and states. He was the founder and board member of the Montana International Trade Commission, the Center for Development of Indian Law, and the National Alliance of Business Men.

In 1970 Barney began a long and successful association with Montana State University when he was recruited to begin the University's Native American Studies program. Later he served as the director of the Bilingual and Bicultural program at MSU. For these and other achievements, MSU awarded Barney an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

In 1973 Barney resigned his post at MSU to become the founder and first president of the nationally chartered American Indian National Bank. After a few years, he returned to MSU as an adjunct professor in the Native American Studies Department and during that time wrote the catalog and the course outlines for the Little Big Horn College's Crow Studies Program.

Throughout his life, a member of the Whistling Water Clan, and child of Big Lodge and Piegan Clans, he lived Crow values, ideals, and culture. He dedicated himself to preserving, practicing, and promoting Native life ways, so that they could not only survive, but flourish in generations to come. One notable distinction was his tireless efforts to secure the Native American Indian Religious Freedom Act. He further reinforced the Act by successfully challenging the IRS with deductions related to Native American religious contributions.

He was highly accomplished in all things Crow. He was renowned for his singing and Crow style dancing abilities. Deeply spiritual, he embraced his responsibility as a pipe carrier and was a practitioner of the sun dance and the Native American Church lifestyles. Because of his lineage, he excelled and claimed many arrow throwing and handgame championships, also claiming distinction in foot and horse races. He was a sought after announcer, emcee and camp crier. He named so many children he actually lost count. He lived a full life, with integrity, merit and distinction. When asked what he attributed his rich experiences and good fortune to, he said: "It's all because I am Crow Indian."

Barney's life was too meaningful and exquisite to detail, too holy and deep to touch. He had so many friends, relatives, colleagues, and military comrades in arms, that are impossible to list individually. But if you knew Barney you are included in this remembrance.

Rosary will be recited at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Bullis Funeral Chapel. Funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Hardin Middle School Auditorium. Interment with military honors will follow in the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Cemetery. Bullis Mortuary has been entrusted with the arrangements.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 8, 2012
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