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Leaders - Three Affiliated Tribes - Contemporary Tribal Leaders, 1960 - 1986

Traditional | Contemporary

Intro | 1936 - 1960 | 1960 - 1986 | 1968 - Present

Contemporary Tribal Leaders, 1960 - 1986

ROBERT FOX (Roaming Wolf)

Sahnish, 1960–1962, 1964–1966

Robert Fox, chairman

Robert L. Fox was born on January 5, 1915 at Nishu, North Dakota, the son of Fred and Hannah Wash Fox, “Choke Cherry Woman.” He attended school in Pierre, South Dakota and Santee Normal School in Santee, Nebraska. He also attended Cook Christian Training School, Phoenix, Arizona, and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He married Naomi Johnson, April 8, 1936, at Center, Nebraska. He raised a family of two boys and four girls.

For 32 years, he served as pastor of Congregational churches on the Fort Berthold Reservation. He was director of the Council of American Indian Ministries of the United Church of Christ for seven years. During this time, he became involved in tribal council activities, serving four terms on the Tribal Business Council and two terms as tribal chair. He represented the East Segment. (Robert Fox Wins, 1960)

He served on the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, White Shield School Board for 21 years, and eight terms on the United Tribes Technical College Board of Directors (then United Tribes Employment Center Board) in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was also the first tribal chairperson to serve on the Governor’s envoy to the Conference on Indian Affairs for the United States and Canada. He retired in 1976 and died in February of 1982. (Reverend Robert Fox, 1982)


Sahnish/Mandan, 1966–1968

August Little Soldier, chairman

August Little Soldier’s father was Clarence Little Soldier and his mother’s name was Willena Young Bear. (Willena Little Soldier Obituary, 1984) August Little Soldier was elected to the Tribal Business Council in 1966. He represented the district of Beaver Creek. While in office, Little Soldier was an advocate for creating a strong economic infrastructure for the tribes. His administration secured tribal homes and supported the need for reservation access roads. (Indians Trying, 1968) He worked toward the creation of Four Bears Park (Fort Berthold, 1968) and initiated many human resources development projects. (Indians Trying, 1968) He was one of the founding members of United Tribes Educational Technical Center (now United Tribes Technical College). He was actively involved in negotiations with the four-company consortium constructing the Great Plains Coal Gasification Plant near Beulah. He served on a committee studying the social and economic impact of the plant and was instrumental in securing a commitment to hire American Indians. (Seiser, “Citizens Wondering, 1981) In 1966, he was appointed to the National Indian Education Advisory Board and served through 1971. He also served as chairman of the Council of American Indian Ministries (1962–1970), and was a board member of the United Church of Christ, a position he held for ten years. He was the first American Indian elected to such a high post in any American church. (Bennett, “Indian Head,” 1971)

In 1978, August Little Soldier was elected as vice-chair of the council and served in that position from 1978 to 1981. Upon leaving office, he was instrumental in establishing the first All American Indian Rodeo Association.

Today, he is sought after and recognized as an authority on the Knife River villages. He is one of the last keepers of one of the Dead Grass Society whistles.

VINCENT MALNOURIE (Teehuunniinax•-Leader)

Sahnish, 1968–1970, 1972–1974

Vincent Malnourie, chairman

Vincent Malnourie was born on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation on March 21, 1910. His parents were Charles and Daisy Little Sioux-Duckett Malnourie. He graduated from high school at the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California in 1932. He was married, and served in the United States Navy during World War II. He worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 30 years and retired in 1968. Vincent was active in Fort Berthold tribal affairs and upon his retirement was elected tribal chairman of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and served two terms.

As chairman, he negotiated on behalf of the tribe on the proposed terms of settlement of several of the Three Affiliated Tribes claims pending before the Indian Claims Commission. His administration initiated the construction of the Mandaree community hall, utility building at Dragswolf Village, and construction of Phases I of the Four Bears Park. In 1973 he supported the legislation establishing a historic site out of the Knife River Indian villages near Stanton, North Dakota. (Delegation to Give Support, 1973)

He also worked for several years in a reservation alcohol program. He was a member of the Sahnish Traditional Dead Grass Society and held one of the singing sticks for the society. Another Sahnish Indian society that Vincent worked hard to revive was the Old Scout Society. This society actively honors the deceased Sahnish Indian scouts on Memorial Day in the community of White Shield, North Dakota, “Home of the Sahnish Tribe.”

Vincent was an accomplished and well-known Sahnish Indian singer and grass dancer, and was noted for his ability to lead in cultural events and activities. He worked hard to revive and retain the Sahnish culture for his people which he felt was fast disappearing with each new generation. He died in February of 1979.

RALPH WELLS, JR. (Nahaa nAE - Good Dish)

Sahnish, 1970–1971

Ralph Wells, chairman

Ralph Wells, Jr. was born August 15, 1908 at Elbowoods, North Dakota, the son of Polly Plenty Fox and Ralph Wells Sr. He grew up at Lucky Mound and was educated at the Congregational Mission in Elbowoods. He attended school at Santee, Nebraska and Flandreau, South Dakota. He married Olive Sherwood in 1926, and they farmed and ranched at Lucky Mound prior to his becoming active in reservation politics. They raised five sons and two daughters.

Ralph Wells, Jr. served five terms on the Tribal Business Council, serving as treasurer, secretary, and tribal chairperson. He was well-respected, a strong supporter of education, and was an active community leader.

He was also an outstanding singer and speaker. He composed Sahnish songs that are still sung at celebrations today. He died while in office at the age of 62. He was well respected for his work in preserving the heritage and culture of his people. (Case, 1977)


Sahnish, 1971–1972

Nathan Little Soldier, chairman

Nathan Little Soldier was born April 2, 1919, at Beaver Creek. His mother’s name was Willena Young Bear and his father’s name was Clarence Little Soldier. He attended schools at Wahpeton, North Dakota; Pierre, South Dakota; Santee, Nebraska; and Elbowoods, North Dakota. He was married to Rosella Hall on October 16, 1938. They raised three sons: Dale, Shote, and Arby. He served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. Following his discharge, he farmed and ranched at Beaver Creek. (Nathan Little Soldier, 1980)

He was elected to the tribal council in September of 1971 representing the Southern Segment. He filled the vacant seat of Ralph Wells Jr. He served as chairperson until August of 1972. He also served on the council for a number of years, representing the Twin Buttes community and served on numerous committees. He was particularly opposed to destruction of the land by strip mining interests. (Selection is Planned, 1971) He was prominent in North Dakota rodeos, participating as a calf-roper. He died in August of 1980 at the age of 61.

ROSE CROW FLIES HIGH (Eda-awa-ge’dah)
Back to Earth (Mia-edugaah) Woman About Everything

Hidatsa, 1972–1973, 1974–1978

Rose Crow Flies High, chairwoman

Rose Parshall was born on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation to George and Ruby Parshall. She married George Crow Flies High, a son of Chief Drags Wolf in 1930. They raised a family of ten children, eight daughters and two sons.

In 1968, she was elected to the Tribal Business Council for the West Segment. She became the first woman elected by popular vote to the Three Affiliated Tribes tribal government, and the first woman to serve as chairperson. She was elected chairperson of the tribe in September of 1972 and served two months. However, the election was overturned in an election dispute. (Copeland, Tribal Election, 1974) She was later elected and served as chair from 1974 to 1978. In addition to her council duties, she worked as a social worker.

She was a strong advocate of the needs of the people. She supported the housing program at Fort Berthold, and was instrumental in the construction of the Minne Tohe Health Center on the reservation. She helped plan and participated in the Poor Peoples’ March on Washington, D.C. in May of 1968. (Indian Leaders, 1976) She served on many boards including the American Indian Travel Commission, the United Tribes Board of Directors, the Four State Health Board, and Plainswoman, a monthly newsletter headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota. (Publication for Women, 1977) Rose Crow Flies High died in January of 1994. (Rose Crow Flies High Obituary, 1994)

AUSTIN GILLETTE (Tsu Daga – White Shield III)

Sahnish/Hidatsa, 1978–1982

Austin Gillette, chairman

Austin Gillette was born in Minot, North Dakota on September 20, 1946. His name is “Tsu Daga” (White Shield III). His parents are Evan and Evadne Baker Gillette. In 1952, he attended first grade in Elbowoods, North Dakota, and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School in Stephan, South Dakota in 1964. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1966.

He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Minot State University in 1972 and a Masters Degree in counseling and guidance from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, in 1974. Gillette was the first college graduate to serve on the tribal council and the youngest person elected tribal chairperson, when he was elected in 1978 at the age of 32. He is currently the longest serving member (20 years) of the tribal council.

During his tenure as chair and councilman, he was involved in establishing Fort Berthold Community College, and wrote judgment plans for claims against the federal government that provided for permanent funding to the tribe. These funds provide an appropriation of approximately $800,000 for education, economic development, land purchases and the tribe’s burial fund. (Turosak, Charting a Path, 1981) He was responsible for performing land appraisals on tribal allotted land on the reservation versus non-Indian lands on/off the reservation. These findings were used to substantiate JTAC legislation.

He established permanent funding of nurse practitioners for the White Shield and Mandaree districts in 1982. His administration coordinated and secured matching funding for the tribe’s Cattle Re-lending Program, construction funds for Fort Berthold Community College, community buildings in Twin Buttes, Parshall, and the North segment; purchase of the LCM Lumber Company, and matching funds to establish Mandaree Electronics. (A. Gillette, personal communication, August, 1998) Under his leadership, in 1982, he initiated minerals restoration, a loss resulting from the construction of the Garrison Dam. His administration was also responsible for securing management of the tribes’ natural resources.

He is active in the Young Hawk Bear American Legion Post 253. He has served as the post’s Commander. He represents the Eastern Segment on the tribal council.

ALYCE SPOTTED BEAR—Mandan, 1982–1986

Alyce Spotted Bear, chairwoman

Alyce Spotted Bear, in 1982, became the second woman to be elected to the business council of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She completed her elementary and high school education at Stephan Indian Mission School in South Dakota. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Education at Dickinson State University and a Masters of Education from Pennsylvania State University, College Park, Pennsylvania. Returning home, she worked in education for the tribe and was the tribe’s personnel administrator.

At the age of 37 she became chairwoman, and led tribal governmental reform through a constitutional revision that reasserted the Tribal Business Council’s authority to exercise jurisdiction over the reservation and its people. (Tribal Votes, 1985)

During her administration, tribal scholarship monies were made available to students attending the Fort Berthold Community College. Her administration initiated the move for just-compensation for lands that the Three Affiliated Tribes lost to construction of the Garrison Dam, ultimately resulting in the tribes being congressionally awarded compensation of $149.2 million. (Ex-Tribal Leader’s Effort, 1992) Spotted Bear’s administration spearheaded the passage of the Mineral Restoration Act, by which Congress returned to the tribe minerals taken from them when tribal lands were flooded under the 1944 Flood Control Act.

During her term, the Three Affiliated Tribes became one of the leading tribes in the nation in the area of environmental concerns. The tribe monitored its ground water, air quality, and began a reservation-wide, solid waste removal program. The tribe also developed a municipal, rural, and industrial water (MR and I) system plan for which they ultimately received funding. (The tribe received favorable rulings in two United States Supreme Court cases).

Her administration also saw the initiation of the Buffalo Project, which today comprises a herd of nearly 400 bison. Spotted Bear was a visiting scholar-in-residence at Dartmouth College and is completing a dissertation for a doctoral degree, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. (A. Spotted Bear, personal communication, June 1997)

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