James Verne Dusenberry
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2010)|
James Verne Dusenberry (7 April 1906 – 16 December 1966) was a Montana educator and advocate for Native Americans.
He was also known as a colleague of Robert M. Pirsig at Montana State, making appearances in Pirsig’s books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Dusenberry was probably instrumental in introducing Pirsig to Native American philosophy; see also Pirsig's metaphysics of Quality.
He was born in Carl, Iowa, but moved with his family to Montana three years later. He seems to have had an interest in ‘Indians’ from an early age. After working his way through college and dealing with tuberculosis, he landed a job located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Despite obstacles, he made contact with local Indians and was soon (1937) adopted by a Pend d’Oreille chief and given the name “Many Grizzly Bears”.
He taught in the English Department of Montana State College/University from 1947 to 1962, where he initiated the first courses in Native American studies and mentored many Native American students. But his interest in Native Americans diverged more and more from those of his English colleagues. He eventually did a Ph.D. thesis “The Montana Cree: A Study in Religious Persistence” (1962), receiving his degree from the University of Stockholm.
He then taught in the anthropology department of University of Montana for two years and moved to Calgary, Alberta to become the first Director of the Indian Studies Institute of the Glenbow Foundation. But he died of cancer soon after.
More details about his life can be found in the Preface to The Montana Cree, written by his daughter, Lynne Dusenberry Crow.
- "Accession 85015 - Verne Dusenberry Papers, ca. 1885-1966 :: Montana State University Library".
- Dusenberry, Verne (1998). “The Montana Cree: A Study in Religious Persistance”. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. ISBN 0-8061-3025-3.