Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 12, 2002 - Issue 53


pictograph divider


Montana State Student Compiles Crow Stories

by Carol Schmidt MSU Communications Services
credits: Montana State University
Barney Old Coyote passed tales of Crow warriors on to his granddaughter, Phenocia Bauerle. Bauerle, a senior at MSU and a member of the Crow Tribe, edited a book of Crow stories that will be published next spring.
Barney Old Coyote with  his granddaughter, Phenocia BauerleIn the way of the Crow, storytellers have passed down the traditions and history of the people word by word, from one generation to the next, since the beginnings of the tribe.

Phenocia Bauerle, a senior at Montana State University and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe, has become a storyteller with a contemporary twist. She has edited a book of Crow stories that will be published next spring by a major scholastic press.

Bauerle, an English major from Bozeman, is the editor of a book tentatively titled "The Way of the Warrior: Stories from along the Elk River" to be published by the University of Nebraska Press.

The book’s stories are about Crow warriors who lived in the time before contact with non-Indian influences, roughly 1800-1860. They were passed to Bauerle by her grandfather, Crow elder Barney Old Coyote, who now lives in Billings.

He and his brother, the late Henry Old Coyote, recorded the stories from elders still living when the Old Coyote brothers returned from World War II. Years later, the two received funding from the Montana Council for the Humanities that enabled them to have the recordings transcribed into a 138-page typewritten text.

The stories have been used in Native American literature courses at Little Big Horn College, where Barney Old Coyote teaches. They have also been a treasure in the Old Coyote family.

"My brother and his wife dedicated themselves to preserve as much of the Crow stories as they could,"Old Coyote said. “These stories meant a lot to him.”

Two years ago, Bauerle took an independent study class in Native American literature from MSU English Professor Alanna Brown. When Bauerle read her texts, she told her professor that the best Native American stories she knew of were her grandfather’s.

When Bauerle brought the stories in, Brown agreed. She encouraged Bauerle to edit the manuscript and submit it to a publisher. Bauerle edited the work over a school year with Brown’s advice, and, if the two ever had differing opinions, Brown deferred to her student.

Bauerle’s mother, Patricia, a social studies teacher at Bozeman’s Sacajawea Middle School, wrote an introduction for the book that included family history and background. Barney wrote a dedication to his brother, Henry.

The work was submitted to the editorial board of the University of Nebraska Press in the summer. Bauerle and Brown learned of the book’s acceptance recently.

Brown said she thinks Bauerle’s book is unprecedented because the collection, translation, interpretation and editing of the material was done by members of Bauerle’s family – all Crow Indians who are familiar with the language, culture and context of the historical stories.

Until this time, non-native speakers were involved with Native American texts.

"These stories will change the way we look at Native American literature,"Brown said.

Sara Jayne Steen, chair of MSU’s English Department, said Bauerle’s accomplishment is rare and joyous.

"Undergraduates do not have books accepted by major publishers,"Steen said.

Steen believes the book will be used as a text for the study of Native American literature nationwide.

"Therefore, it is a distinction for both MSU and the Crow people,"she said.

The book is the latest honor for a distinguished Montana family. In fact, Brown points out that the story of the Old Coyote family is nearly as fascinating as the stories in the book.

After Pearl Harbor, Barney and Henry enlisted in the Army and served as "Windtalkers"for Gen. Jimmy Doolittle in Europe and Northern Africa. The brothers would communicate strategic war information in the Crow language, which was a language that enemies with German and Italian backgrounds could not decode.

The brothers came home from World War II with combat and non-combat medals.

In the 1960s, Old Coyote served as an assistant to the Secretary of the Interior. He and Henry helped to pass the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Later, Barney helped form the American Indian National Bank and was its first president.

He received an honorary doctorate from MSU in 1968 and started the Native American Studies program at MSU in 1970.

In addition to editing the book, Bauerle has also received a Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship, a national award honoring distinguished minority students. Her freshmen year she was Miss Indian MSU and has been selected as the head female dancer for the 2002 Indian Club Powwow.

But, for all that his family has accomplished, Barney Old Coyote said the stories have special meaning for they have now come full circle.

"When Phenocia came and asked about editing these stories, I said 'Have at it,'"Old Coyote said, noting that he and his brother "dreamed about this for a long time."

Crow Indian Reservation

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota Logo


Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You