John Cummins, Jr.

John Bernard Cummins Jr, Mighty Eagle, D’aakak B’aachaachae of Lodge Grass Creek left this earth peacefully surrounded by his family on his Ranch on Friday, March 6, 2020.

John was born December, 5 1942 in Crow Agency, Montana, to Mabel Hill and John Bernard Cummins, as Jackson Hill. He was a member of the Piegan Clan and a child of the Whistling Water Clan.  John was a descendent of Chief Greybull. At 9 months old he was adopted and raised by his grandparents John and Polly Greybull Cummins. They named him John Cummins, Jr. His great grandfather, “Grass Hopper,” had a large part in raising, “Johnny Boy,” as we all knew him from an infant to a young man.

John was a jockey for his dad, Bernard, beginning at the young age of 9 years old. He traveled with his dad and stepmom, Gloria, all over Montana and they competed in various horse racing events. He rode his Dad’s famous horses; Blue Dew, My Silly Sam and Sadack, whom together they won many championships.  

As a young boy Johnny Boy and his great grandfather, Grasshopper, walked to church from the family home near Lodge Grass every Sunday. Due to his upbringing and his family’s devout belief in God, he carried on this way of life. He lived to be a humble man and because of this he gave an Indian name of, “Path of Prayer,” according to the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

John married Mary Leda Falls Down on October 11, 1962 in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. They made their home on Lodge Grass Creek.

He is preceded in death by his parents; grandparents; brothers Victor and Victor Clifford Singer, Jr.; aunts Verly and Anna; sister Michelle; son James; daughter Gloria and wife Mary.

Survivors include his daughters Crescentia Cummins, Terry Anna (Peirce) Big Lefthand; his sons Thomas and John (Angela) Cummins, III; his grandchildren Carylene, Micheal John, Gary, Mary Adele, Kordell, Leo, Little Bear, John Henry, Wynona, Shane, Jack, Brocade, Kloe, Hillary, Alexia, Baby Boy, Maggie, Tuffy, Moziz and Seth; great grandchildren Danielle, McKayla, Drewanne, Michealina, Michealette, Devona, Katana, Eli, Jada Cade, Mya, Gary, III, Blaze, Atreyu, Kayleah Beth, and Famous;   adopted children Curtiss Bad Bear, Larry Singer, Kenny Allen, Kevin White, Myron Falls Down, Jr., Shawn Back Bone, Jr., Tyliss Bad Bear, Eric Birdinground, Manuel Smith, Robert Topaha and Marcel Chase, Wendy Dean, Dewanda Little Coyote, Suzanne Iron, Mariam, Nicki Smith and Tricia Bad Bear, Valerie Brien and Bobbylene Red Star; siblings Latonna (Sharone) Old Elk, Bernadine (Gordon) Realbird, Barney Cummins, Alda (Louie) Goodluck, Leroy Cummins, Polly (Manuel) Chase, George (Julie) Cummins, Harold Hill; adopted sister Davi Jean Jackson; adopted brother Joe Pickett. He was close to his aunts Anna and Verlie familes, the Hill and the Half families and considered them his brothers and sisters; also adopted brother and sister Gloria Good Luck and Robert Howe.

Education: attended Lodge Grass Schools, Little Big Horn, University of Montana, Studied Education/English. 

 Employment: his employment career began as a CETA working during the Stewart Administration and later as a teacher at the Little Big Horn College teaching English. After completing his education degree he taught at the Lodge Grass High School teaching junior high English. John later became certified as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor/educator for Crow Tribal Detox Program. During the Richard Real Bird Administration, he worked as an AML Director, during the Nomee Administration he worked as the Detox as the assistant director, during the Carl Venne Administration he was a member of the 107 Committee as a member he was the Spiritual Advisor. During this time, he was instrumental in the development of the Veterans Park at Crow Agency and the Youth Basketball courts located at the Gas Cap.  He continued to serve on the 17 Committee during the Cedric Black Eagle Administration. He was presently employed as part of the Tribal Cultural Committee for the AJ Not Afraid Administration. During his career, John assisted and obtained grants for various tribal programs. He was employed at numerous areas at Crow Tribe of Indians and also worked as a Ranch hand. John’s last employment was as a Crow Cultural Specialist for the Crow Tribe of Indians, he retired in 2016.  John spent the rest of his last years with his family on his horse ranch at Lodge Grass Creek. 

Organizations: John left behind a legacy of accomplishments, one the most memorable that he was proud of was testifying for the, “Native American Religious Freedom Act,” in 1993 in front of the United States Congress in Washington D.C. This Act was an offset of the first Act which was the, Big Sheep Case which began in 1926, which was known as United States Vs Big Sheep, the one Constitution that directly protects individuals and group rights for Native Americans is according to the author Neal-Post (1994) “The Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act of 1993 (NAFERA) addresses religious freedom in four areas: protection of sacred sites in Title I, traditional use of peyote in Title II, and prisoner’s rights and religious use of eagles, plants, and animals in Titles III and IV.” Because of his involvement with the NAFERA he was named permanent Delegate at Large for the Native American Church. He also became the President of the Crow Cultural Committee after the passing of his father John Cummins who held the position. John also organized the “No Water Charter” of the Native American Church, an accomplishment he was very proud of. John was asked many times for spiritual advice and he never refused to pray for those who asked him. One of these occasion was a time when Shawn Backbone was a coach at Lodge Pole, Montana and he appointed him as the team’s spiritual advisor. He supported the Lodge Pole team for the years Shawn coach the team. The team took the state championship in 2002 during his time with the team.

He carried drum for Shawn when he first put up a meeting. He prayed with Carl Venne with the pipe as a spiritual advisor. He was a humble man and prayed for many people. He was called on as a Clan Uncle to pray for many of his clan children, he was also called upon to give them Indian names.

John has given many Indian names and he adopted many fatherless and motherless children. He also recognized those who had difficulties and he prayed for them and encouraged them. He carried on his spiritual beliefs and ceremonies that was taught to him by his grandparents and parents.

He was a member of the Native American Church, he participated in sweats, and fasting, Sundance’s and he was member of Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church in Lodge Grass. He is a descendent of Goes Against Wind, Stand Up, Sits Down Spotted, Calf Woman, Going About, Holds Well Known, All Alone, Comes to Her Mother. White Hip, Grey Bull and Cummins.

When he was a young man, at Sheridan Park, he said, “I was swimming alone and observed a family visiting and having a picnic. I thought, I want that family unit in my future and in my life.” He adopted many kids, took nieces and nephews. He said, “When you’re the only one, it’s the worst feeling in the world, so I took them in as my sons and daughters.”  He had a heart for everyone, especially orphans. He gave his heart to those he loved. 

We would like to thank the Lodge Grass Senior Citizens Clan Aunts and Clan Uncles, the IHS CEO and staff, and Doctor Melanie Walker, Nurse Kelly Pretty Weasel as well as the staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

He has a large family, too numerous to name, but he loved them all.

John Cummins Funeral Mass Tuesday March 10th 10:00 AM at Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church in Lodge Grass. Burial following at the Cummins Family Cemetery. Rosary will be held Monday at 4:00 PM at Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church in Lodge Grass. After the Rosary there will be a Wake held at the Church.

Bullis Mortuary has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Leave a Reply