Joseph Dussome.

(1880-1963):
Montana Metis Leader
By Judy Jacoby and Lawrence Barkwell
Joseph Dussome was born on February 6! 1880 a" #$lk %$&er! #on"ana' (e was "he
son o) Joseph Duss$aume
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and #ar$e Freder$ck

' *n +ep"ember 8! 1916 a" ,las-ow
.alley! #on"ana! he marr$ed /arol$ne 0ambrun! dau-h"er o) 1s$dore 0ambrun and 1sabelle
Du)resne'
Joseph Dussome was well known "hrou-hou" #on"ana and $n 2ash$n-"on D'/'
because o) h$s work on behal) o) "he #e"$s people o) #on"ana! par"$cularly "he L$""le
+hell Band o) #e"$s who were $n "he la"e 1800s under "he leadersh$p o) /h$e) 3homas
L$""le +hell' 3h$s -roup was par" o) "he #e"$s and /ree who were known as "he 4Landless
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Joseph Dussome +r' was born $n %ed %$&er .alley o) 5or"h Dako"a $n 18678 he d$ed $n 1886! and $s
bur$ed $n 2alhalla! 5or"h Dako"a' (e marr$ed #ary Freder$ck who was also born $n "he %ed %$&er .alley
$n 186' +he d$ed $n 197 and $s bur$ed $n #al"a! #on"ana' Bo"h o) "hese people were one hal) or more
de-ree o) 1nd$an Blood o) "he /h$ppewa 3r$be! and members o) "he 0emb$na Band o) /h$ppewa 1nd$ans
who were "hen under "he leadersh$p o) "he /h$e) 3homas L$""le +hell' 5e$"her o) "hem had e&er a""ended
any school! howe&er! #rs' Dussome d$d speak se&eral lan-ua-es' Born )rom "h$s marr$a-e were sons9 John
and Joseph (' Dussome8 dau-h"ers9 #ary %ose Dussome Doney! /lemence Dussome Brews"er! and %achel
Dussome Leedy'

#ar$e Freder$c was born 17 :u-us" 1863 (:l ;erbury'<8 marr$ed Joseph Lauren" Duss$aume on 10 #ay
1868 a" +"' Joseph! 5or"h Dako"a she subse=uen"ly marr$ed John Desmara$s! son o) Joseph Desmara$s and
:dela$de /lermon"! be)ore 188>8 d$ed 18 #arch 196 #al"a! #on"ana! a" a-e 8'
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1nd$ans o) #on"ana'? 1n 19>! Dussome became "he +"a"e 0res$den" o) "he L$""le +hell
Band and con"$nued $n "h$s pos$"$on un"$l h$s dea"h $n 1963' 3he 19> or-an$@a"$on was
)ormed $n (ays! #on"ana and Dussome was "he leader o) subse=uen" or-an$@a"$ons under
&ar$ous names $n 1937! 1939! and "he 1969 $"era"$on known as "he 4Landless 1nd$ans o)
#on"ana?' 3h$s or-an$@a"$on lar-ely drew suppor" )rom "he ($-L$ne (commun$"$es alon-
"he ra$lway )rom 2ol) 0o$n" "o (a&re< and Lew$s"own (+pr$n- /reek< areas' 1n 1961!
Joseph Dussome helped "o )orm wha" was called 43he F$rs" :mer$can 3eepee /lub?!
wh$ch cons$s"ed o) 19> or more L$""le +hell Band members )rom around "he s"a"e o)
#on"ana' .ern Dusenberry -$&es "he )ollow$n- s"ory9
Dussome recalls! "oo! "he purchase by "he -o&ernmen" o) a )or"y-acre "rac" o) land
near ,rea" Falls $n "he 1930As' (ere was "o be a chance )or "he 1nd$ans o) ($ll 7>! "he
landless ones )rom "he 3ur"le #oun"a$ns! "o l$&e $n less s=ual$d cond$"$ons and "o
ha&e subs$s"ence -arden plo"s' 3oo &$&$d $n DussomeAs memory $s "he oppos$"$on
)rom ,rea" FallsA res$den"s "o "he occupancy o) "he s$"e by "he 1nd$ans! so "he
oppor"un$"y passed' :nd "hen "here was "he -o&ernmen" %ese""lemen" 0lan "ha" was
almos" accompl$shed! early $n "he 1960As' 1n 0h$ll$ps coun"y! where "he Farm
+ecur$"y :dm$n$s"ra"$on d$d remarkable "h$n-s )or wh$"e )armers! "he plan de&eloped
whereby all o) "he Ben 0h$ll$psB p$oneer land hold$n-s were "o be purchased by "he
-o&ernmen" )or "he Landless 1nd$ans' *n "h$s land! eCper$enced 1nd$an )armers
would ha&e separa"e un$"s8 $neCper$enced ones would work coopera"$&ely' Bu" "he
war came! and "he $dea became a )or-o""en one' Bu" hope! e&en now! $s no" en"$rely
dead' Joe Dussome s"$ll bel$e&es "ha" "he )ederal -o&ernmen" w$ll e&en"ually pro-
&$de a rehab$l$"a"$on pro-ram )or h$s people8 "ha" "he 1nd$an cla$m "o "he hun"$n-
r$-h"s o) "he 3ur"le #oun"a$n area w$ll some day be reco-n$@ed as be$n- as
s$-n$)$can" as "hose cul"$&a"ed r$-h"s o) "he wh$"e man8 "ha" e&en"ually r$-h" w$ll
"r$umph and some o) "he $ne=u$"$es o) "he pas" w$ll be rec"$)$ed' 3he "rucks )rom "he
m$nes roar by h$s cab$n by day' :" n$-h" w$nd blows down )rom "he l$""le canyon pas"
h$s door' Joseph Dussome s$"s $n h$s cab$n a" Dor"man and wa$"s! perhaps )or a day
"ha" ne&er comes'
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.ern Dusenberry! E2a$"$n- )or a Day 3ha" 5e&er /omes?! )rom Montana The Magazine of Western
History" .ol' 8! (+pr$n- 1978<! 3>-38' 1" $s a summary h$s"ory o) "he L$""le +hell "r$beAs s"ru--le )or
reco-n$"$on )rom "he F+ -o&ernmen" s$nce "he 1800Bs' 3he ar"$cle chron$cles con&ersa"$ons w$"h Joseph
Dussome and "he pl$-h" o) "he 4Landless? #e"$s and 1nd$ans on ($ll 7> a" ,rea" Falls! and o"her areas
around "he s"a"e o) #on"ana'

Gl$@abe"h +perry descr$bes Joseph DussomeBs work $n "h$s way9
Be"ween 19> and 199! Joseph Dussome o) Dur$ch! #on"ana! lead a -roup o)
Landless 1nd$ans under "he &ar$ous "$"les o) 4:bandoned 3r$be o) 1nd$ans o)
#on"ana!? "he 4Los" /h$ppewa!? "he 4Landless 1nd$ans o) 5or"hern #on"ana!? or as
"he 4Landless 1nd$ans o) #on"ana? (L1#<' 3h$s or-an$@a"$on ser&ed "o represen" "he
pol$"$cal and soc$al $n"eres"s o) Landless 1nd$ans $n "he s"a"e' 1n$"$ally! Joe Dussome
d$spu"ed "ha" "he L1# had any a))$l$a"$on w$"h "he 3ur"le #oun"a$n /h$ppewa'
%a"her! Dussome asser"ed -roup ances"ry amon- "he 0emb$na band o) /h$ppewa
under "he leadersh$p o) /h$e) %ed Bear'199 La"er! howe&er! Dussome be-an "o
represen" $nd$&$duals cla$m$n- descendancy under "he leadersh$p o) 0emb$na /h$e)
3homas L$""le +hell! a descenden" o) /h$e) L$""le +hell o) "he 3ur"le #oun"a$n band
or$-$nally )rom 5or"h Dako"a' /on"emporary research $llus"ra"es "he con)us$on
surround$n- DussomeBs -roup and "he$r eCac" e"hn$c a))$l$a"$on' ,rea" e))or" has been
under"aken "o -ene"$cally p$npo$n" "he descendency o) "h$s -roup' 3h$s $s nearly
$mposs$ble "o do $) we cons$der "he mul"$-e"hn$c compos$"$on o) landless 1nd$an
people $n #on"ana! and "he numerous a&enues )or $den"$)$ca"$on "h$s mul"$-e"hn$c
compos$"$on crea"es'
1n 199! Dussome wro"e "o a""orney :':' ,rorud $n behal) o) "he 4abandoned
3r$be o) 1nd$ans o) #on"ana!? re=ues"$n- ,rorudBs ass$s"ance $n secur$n- "$"le "o land
$n #on"ana )or h$s -roup' Dussome ar-ued "ha" "he Landless 1nd$ans o) #on"ana
(L1#< re"a$ned "$"le and r$-h"s "o land $n #on"ana "hrou-h possess$on and occupancy!
c$"$n- 3ur"le #oun"a$n 1nd$ans under "he leadersh$p o) /h$e) L$""le +hell who "ook
allo"men"s o) land $n eas"ern #on"ana as pro&$ded by "he pro&$s$ons o) "he 188>
,eneral :llo"men" :c"' 3h$s ac" pro&$ded land )or 1nd$an people who had no"
pre&$ously rece$&ed r$-h"s "o a reser&a"$on! or )or 1nd$ans who were enrolled
members o) a reser&a"$on bu" were unable "o se""le on "he$r reser&a"$on due "o a lack
o) su))$c$en" land'
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J' Gl$@abe"h +perry 4G"hno-enes$s o) "he #e"$s! /ree and /h$ppewa $n 3wen"$e"h /en"ury #on"ana'?
#':' 3hes$s! #$ssoula! #on"ana9 3he Fn$&ers$"y o) #on"ana! 00>983-86'
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3hrou-h h$s lobby$n- e))or"s $n 2ash$n-"on! he was $ns"rumen"al
$n ob"a$n$n- "he Brown %anch and "he la"e +ena"or /owanBs %anch near
BoC Glder! #on"ana )or h$s people' 3hese were la"er los" alon- w$"h
"he$r o"her lands (1936<' 1n 196! he was called "o 2ash$n-"on D'/'!
accompan$ed by Da&$d Doney o) (ays! "o "es"$)y $n "he cour" o) /la$ms!
concern$n- "he 3en /en" 3rea"y o) "he /h$ppewa-/ree-#e"$s o) "he
Dako"a 3err$"ory'
Joseph Dussome spen" "he maHor$"y o) h$s l$)e )$-h"$n- )or h$s
peopleBs r$-h"s' (e was known "o one-and-all as a 4man o) loyal"y'? For
many years he was employed w$"h "he %eclama"$on +er&$ce on "he
/row %eser&a"$on! where he bu$l" dams and o"her wa"er mana-emen"
s"ruc"ures' (e was also ac"$&e $n "he Democra"$c 0ar"y and held "he
pos$"$on o) con-ress$onal /omm$""ee man $n 0h$ll$ps /oun"y! #on"ana'
3h$s ar"$cle was wr$""en w$"h con"r$bu"$ons by Judy Jacoby! DussomeBs
-rea" -rand-dau-h"er' Judy has ser&ed as a Band counsellor )or "he
L$""le +hell Band o) #on"ana' 3h$s $n)orma"$on $s eC"rac"ed )rom a -enealo-y presen"ed
as a -$)" "o Judy )rom ,a$l #or$n' ,a$l s$"es :l ;erbury (4#y %ed %$&er L$nea-e!? #ay
1996< )or some o) "h$s $n)orma"$on'
%e)erence9
Dusenberry! .ern' 42a$"$n- )or a Day "ha" 5e&er /omes?! Montana The Magazine of Western History"
.ol' 8! (+pr$n- 1978<! 3>-38'
Dusenberry! .ern' 43he #e"$s o) #on"ana!? $n #$chael +' Iennedy (Gd'< The Red Man’s West! 5ew ;ork9
(as"$n-s (ouse 0ubl$shers! 19679 88-107'
0ho"o cred$"9 h""p9JJwww'l$""leshell"r$be'comJ$ma-esJ$m-arch$&eJHosephhdussome'Hp-
/omp$led by Lawrence Barkwell
/oord$na"or o) #e"$s (er$"a-e and ($s"ory %esearch
Lou$s %$el 1ns"$"u"e
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