James Verne Dusenberry

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James Verne Dusenberry
Died December 16, 1966(1966-12-16) (aged 60)
Calgary, Alberta

James Verne Dusenberry (7 April 1906 – 16 December 1966)[1] was well educated and a publicly acclaimed scholar. He is best known for his work and relationships he had built with many of the various Montana tribes throughout his lifetime.

Early life[edit]

Verne Dusenberry was born in Corning, Iowa on April 7, 1906.[2] When Dusenberry was very young his family moved to Montana. His interest and for Native Americans grew and he soon became well acquainted with the surrounding tribes of Montana from an early age; (1937) adopted by a Pend d’Oreille chief and was given the name “Many Grizzly Bears”. After working his way through college and dealing with tuberculosis, he landed a job located on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Dusenberry was married at one time and had a daughter named Lynn Dusenberry, who was very involved with her father’s research. She too, was well acquainted with the Montana Native tribes and assisted him with his book.


In Bozeman, Montana in 1927 he had earned his Bachelor’s degree from Montana State College (now known as Montana State University). Before receiving his Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT in 1956; Dusenberry became dean from 1945-47 while teaching in Glendive at the Dawson Junior College. He continued his research in Anthropology in Sweden and graduated in 1962 from the University of Stockholm with his Ph. D. He was also in the Phi Kappa Phi, participated in the American Anthropological Association and Montana Academy of Science.

Professional life[edit]

Dusenberry was an English teacher at Comertown High School from 1927 to 1928 in Comertown, Montana. Then from 1928-1931, he was an English and Drama teacher at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Montana. He then moved to Glendive, Montana where he taught English and Drama Dawson County High School from 1931-1935. He taught English only in Columbia Falls, Montana at Columbia Falls High School for about a year (1944-1945). In 1945 to 1947, Dusenberry became Dean, as well as, English Instructor at Dawson County Junior College in Glendive, Montana. From 1947-1961, he was Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Montana State College (now known as Montana State University). During a leave of absence from Montana State College, he was a Counselor and Consultant on the Special Indian Rehabilitation Project at Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana.

Native American Tribes in Montana[edit]

Throughout his education is when he began his work with the surrounding Montana Tribes. During his time spent in Havre, MT in the course of compiling data, as a visiting English Professor at the Northern Montana College, Dusenberry became acquainted with the Rocky Boy reservation Chippewa/Cree people. However, in 1935, was his first engagement with Native people; in which, he came across the Pend d'Oreille and Flathead people.

Published Material[edit]

You can find many of Dusenberry’s primary source documents in the library’s special collections section located at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. Dusenberry’s work from 1952, consists of mostly articles published in various journals and magazines about the Montana Native American’s. Here is a few that he has written; wth a total of three articles in the Montana Magazine of History, Chief Joseph’s Flight Through Montana (Volume II, No. 3: 43-51) was his first article. Nation published Montanans Look at their Indians in 1955. The Significance of the Sacred Pipes to the Gros Ventre of Montana was published in Ethnos, Volume 26, pages 12–29 in 1961. However, Dusenberry’s most notable of his published work is his doctoral thesis, as well as, first book which consists of 280 pages, The Montana Cree, A Study in Religious Persistence; it has been a guide through sustaining the ways of life in Native Americans religion.


  • The Montana Cree, A Study in Religious Persistence (1962)
  • Ceremonial Sweat Lodge of the Gros Ventre Indians (1962)
  • The Significance of the Sacred Pipes to the Gros Ventre of Montana (1961)
  • Notes on the Material Culture of the Assiniboine (1960)
  • An Appreciation of James Willard Schultz (1960)
  • Vision Experience of a Pend d’Oreille Indian (1959)
  • Gaberiel Nattau’s Soul Speaks (1959)
  • Indians and the Pentecostals (1958)
  • Waiting for a Day that Never Comes (1958)
  • The Development of Montana’s Indians (1957)
  • Horn in the Ice (1956)
  • Montanans Look at their Indians (1955)
  • The Northern Cheyenne (1955)
  • The Rocky Boy Indians (1954)
  • Chief Joseph’s Flight Through Montana (1952)


  1. ^ "Accession 85015 - Verne Dusenberry Papers, ca. 1885-1966 :: Montana State University Library". 
  2. ^ Carling Malouf (April 1968). "Verne Dusenberry 1906–1966". American Anthropologist 1970 (2). pp. 326–327. Retrieved 2014-08-04.