Henry Real Bird, a Crow tribal member who is a rancher and former rodeo cowboy, today was named Montana’s poet laureate by Gov. Brian Scwheitzer.
“It is an honor to appoint Henry Real Bird as poet laureate,” the governor said in a release accompanying the announcement. “Our heritage, our lives and our way of life in this great state are often expressed through poetry and the work of Henry Real Bird brings so much of Montana to life. This is a unique opportunity to bring poetry to the people of Montana.”
Here’s what the release has to say about Real Bird:
He has been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada and has published 12 children’s books, a poetry book, “Where Shadows are Born,” and has an audio compact disc, “Rivers of Horse.” Real Bird has won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and was featured in the award-winning docu-mentary “Why the Cowboy Sings.” He has a bachelor’s degree from Montana State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University – Billings). He is the third Montana Poet Laureate and succeeds Greg Pape, whose term expired. Real Bird and his wife and children live on the O-W Ranch in Big Horn County.
The honor came as Montana celebrates American Indian Heritage Day, being celebrated for the first time after a law passed earlier this year.
The event, to be celebrated on the last Friday in September, will be marked in communities and especially in schools.
“American Indian Heritage Day presents a great opportunity not only for schools to highlight their Indian Education for All activities, but for all Montanans to celebrate the rich cultural history and contemporary issues of American Indian nations who were here long before this place was called Montana,” says state School Superintendent Denise Juneau, who is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe.