Lawrence Real Bird / Baa Hawaa Shiiche

Thursday, January 7, 2021
Lawrence Real Bird / Baa Hawaa Shiiche

Lawrence “Chuck” Real Bird, 84, passed on to the Other Side Camp on December 29, 2020, with his family by his side. He courageously fought a battle with stomach cancer for six months.

He was born April 25, 1936, to Mark and Florence (Medicine Tail) Real Bird. His uncle, Medicine Tail gave him his Crow name Baa Hawaa Shiiche / He Fights Away the Enemy. He is a member of the Whistling Water Clan and a child of the Greasy Mouth Clan. Chuck and his twin sister, Margo, were the youngest of nine siblings born to his parents. He had five older brothers — James, George, Pius, Floyd and Edison and three sisters Lorraine, Martha and Margo. He was raised on the Crow Reservation on the banks of the Little Big Horn River in Medicine Tail Coulee.

In the Apsáalooke tradition, Chuck fluently spoke the Crow language, rode, and trained races horses, paraded and danced Crow Style. He attended traditional ceremonies and practiced Crow belief ways.

Chuck attended Crow Agency Elementary School and Hardin High School and graduated in 1956. He attended Haskell Indian Junior College where he took business administration courses and played basketball, football and was on the rodeo team. He was instrumental in starting the rodeo team at Haskell.

In the Spring Draft of 1961, Chuck was drafted into the United States Army. He served for two years in the finance department at his station in Kyserlotton, Germany. He was honorably discharged in 1963.

He married the love of his life, Ramona Hugs Russell, on August 12, 1961, in Lodge Grass in a formal church wedding at the First Crow Indian Baptist Church. During his military service, he and Ramona travelled around Europe. Charlie told his granddaughter BethYana that his marriage to Ramona was “truly a love story.” He and Ramona enjoyed 59 years of marriage together. In their early years, they resided in Kyserlotton, Germany, and in Lodge Grass, Montana. In 1970, they moved to Garryowen and in 1973 they built a home and ranch, where they raised their children Shawn, Timothy and Nicole.

Following his tour of duty in the armed services, Charlie served in the Crow Indian Agency - Bureau of Indian Affairs for twelve years in the Realty Office. Later, he took a position with the Crow Tribe and the Crow School as a Youth Advocate and Development Officer where he organized several 4-H clubs for all ages of Crow Indian youth and local parades featured these Crow Indian Youth 4-H clubs, riding in formation. For the past forty years, Chuck was a successful agricultural businessman with his sons raising cattle and horses.

Children were Chuck’s biggest fans. When he entered a gathering or an event, kids would find him; and he took special interest in each one of his young nieces and nephews and the kids in the Center Lodge District. Friendliness was Chuck’s trademark for when he sponsored an event; you played games and got into contests that engaged everyone of all ages, from funny hat contests, to singing and storytelling matches, or relay races.

When his children were students at the Crow Elementary School, Chuck joined the PTA and helped raise considerable funds to purchase band instruments, promoting music in the curriculum. His own children became accomplished musicians, starting at Crow School. For all his activity with schools and students, Chuck and Ramona were awarded the National Indian Education Parents of the Year, at San Diego in 2010. This award was based his children attaining a higher education and fluently speaking the Crow Language, in addition supporting the grandchildren and great grandchildren in this mission and goal!

Chuck was committed to the success of his children in sports and even moved to Billings for his son’s senior year at West High Hchool, which led to Shawn’s scholarship to the University of Montana. Chuck further supported his son Tim during his years of rodeoing. Chuck and Ramona continued their support of sports activities with their grandchildren Kordell, who played football, and Pixie, who played volleyball and basketball. Chuck cheered on Kordell during his college football career at Dickinson State University, with his daughter Nicole. Chuck was looking forward to his granddaughter Kloe’s upcoming sports seasons at Hardin Middle School. He was also fondly proud of granddaughters Jessi when she won Crow Fair Parade Manager, SieAnna qualified three years State High School Rodeo Finals and graduating from high school and Aspen a member of the National Honor Society and be selected for Miss Crow Nation 2021.

Crow Fair benefitted from Chuck’s organizational, financial and race horse expertise. The late Edmund “Buck” Day Light nominated Chuck to be the 1st Racing Secretary of Crow Fair at the old wood grandstands in 1969 and he served in this capacity in 1970 and 1971. This was the first time the Crow Fair horse racing was professional organized and managed. He established the titles for the featured races; they are All American Indian Futurity, Derby and Maturity, Crow Bred, Inaugural Stakes, District Championships, Princess Stakes and many other races. He also established para-mutual betting on the Crow Reservation for the Crow Fair Race meet during which the silver dollar payouts were most notable. Chuck and his assistant Cornelius Little Light solicited donations, sponsors and awarded beautifully lettered coolers for the main races. He recruited noted seamstress, Laura Singer, for the jockey silks and numbers.

Chuck was renowned for his racehorses, which he ran on many tracks in seven states including Los Alamedas, Remington Park and Lone Star in Texas. His most famous horses were: Crow Sovereign, the APHA World Champion Running Gelding, and He All Mine TAAA, Vans Joe Dan TAAA, Crow Design TAAA, Tom Cat TAAA, 7 Stars TAAA, Such a Crow Girl TAAA, Midnight Water TAAA and Katys Mars Can TAAA. Chuck’s lifelong interest and passion in horse racing culminated with his horses winning seven different states, in addition he was inducted into American Paint Horse Association as a Hall of Fame Breeder of Paint Horses in 2007.

In April 2006, the American Paint Horse Association had their Annual Awards Banquet on the top level of the glass enclosure at the grandstands at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The award of APHA World Champion Running Gelding was given to Crow Sovereign. A video was shown on Crow Sovereign winning races all over the country. A cooler and a buckle were given to Chuck and Ramona, after the awards ceremony he told Ramona, “We are living a beautiful dream!”

For three years, Chuck collaborated with videographer Robin Starbuck on a fulllength documentary, the Iichiilish Dak – Going to the Horses. This project required extensive research and interviews with many Crow horsemen and tribal members, including Chuck’s extensive knowledge. Traditional storytelling was a part of this research; and during the documentary development Charlie and Ramona hosted many bonfires and gatherings for telling stories of horse training and traditions.

Crow Fair was a time for camping, and Charlie and Ramona had a huge well-built camp with tipis for the family and guests, wall tents and a shade for several kitchens. The adjacent corral was built to accommodate the many parade horses for their entire family and extended family. Chuck was a wellknown participant in the Crow Fair Parade and ensured all his sons; daughter and grandchildren participated on horseback. Mornings began early to water the horses at the river, place the saddles, tack and beaded trappings on the horses, dress the many family members in war shirts, buffalo and eagle feather headdresses, elk tooth and buckskin dresses. Every year, Chuck’s family was awarded first place prizes for parading in various categories. Chuck also honorably served as the Crow Fair Parade Marshall in 2011 and 2017.

Raised in Crow tradition, Chuck lived by clan ways, practiced the Sweat Lodge and was a member of the Native American Church. He and his family were active participants in the Center Lodge District of the Crow Reservation, helping with district dances and handgames. In 1973, the couple was adopted into the Sacred Tobacco Society, by parents Polic and Betty Plain Bull. Chuck was honored to be asked to name many children during his lifetime. Singing Crow songs with his family was a special pastime during birthdays and family gatherings: rounddance, doorway, pushdance and hotdance songs. Chuck brought his horse training stories to the Crow Agency families at Crow language nights.

The family sincerely appreciates Dr. Mark and Dr. Lynelle Noisy Hawk in their advice, counseling and support in the care of Lawrence Real Bird.

He is predeceased by his parents; his brothers, James, George, Floyd, Pius and Edison; and his sisters, Lorraine Moccasin and Martha Little Light.

He is survived by his loving wife Ramona; his twin sister Margo; his children, Shawn (Lynelle Noisy Hawk), Timothy (Gaynell) and Nicole; the granddaughter he raise, Jessi (Micah) White Clay; his adopted brothers/ sisters, Bill King, Doug/Judy Gregory, Doug Rogers; adopted into the family, Robin Starbuck and Johnny Demontiney; his grandchildren, Aspen, SieAnna, Jace (Laura) and Pixie Real Bird, Kordell (Tiara) and Kloe Cummins; his great grandchildren, Charly, Tyree, and Micayla White Clay, Jarick, Kendalyn Real Bird, Isiah Birdinground, and Kayleah Beth Cummins; all of Chuck’s siblings have large families and brought him the blessing of many nephews and nieces, grand nephews and nieces; he is further survived by brothers, Curtis and Barry Real Bird, Corn Little Light; his little sisters, Janice Hudetz, Lena and Ellabeth Little Light, Joyce, Lana and Connie Moccasin, Helen Crooked Arm and Loretta Johnson; his nephews, Henry, Kennard, James, Edward, Lanny, and Gordon Real Bird; and nieces, Natalie, Rhea, Susan, Virginia and Birdie Real Bird.

Our extended family includes the Real Bird, Medicine Tail, Moccasin, Little Light, Backbone, Deernose and Medicine Crow families. If we have forgotten anyone, please excuse our error in this time of bereavement.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 1, 2021 at the Multi-Purpose Building in Crow Agency. Burial with Military Honors followed at the Crow Veterans’ Cemetery.

Bullis Mortuary was entrusted with the funeral arrangements.