A Belcourt man has dedicated much of his life to teaching and preserving tribal history and Native American culture.
He’s authored books, has an extensive background in education and is a Navy veteran.
“I’ve been in Belcourt for 100 years. Subtract eight,” Dan Jerome said with a smile. He has a good sense of humor.
Come January, he will be 92 and has a lot to show for it.
“I was the first superintendent of this school system,” he said.
He was a part of many changes to the Belcourt school system, including; consolidating two districts into one, hiring more Native Americans, annexing another school in the Rolette district that had 50 Belcourt students at the time, and much more.
“I was the only one, in fact, when I got here … I was the only person of Indian descent with a degree that was in the school system then.”
His dedication to academics and his people goes beyond his 21 years as Superintendent and 32 years total in education.
“Some of those changes were necessary, they had to be done and I was there to do them,” he said. “So I think those are things that I enjoyed doing.”
Jerome spent years writing “The Trail of Misgivings, a Comprehensive Study of the Formal Education of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.”
With the help of his son, Jerome details the establishment of the Turtle Mountain Reservation, early government schools, federal takeover, types of schools and funding, and much more in the book’s 280 pages.
Other books authored by Dan Jerome include “Warriors of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa”and “Then And Now, a Pictorial Journey of Turtle Mountain Reservation.”
It was when he started gathering photos for “Then and Now” when he said to his wife, “I told Bridget, ‘I think we should include the military in there,'” and he was sidetracked.
He then compiled the names and photos of more than 1,700 veterans to publish “Warriors of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.”
“Then and Now” was published just this year, and the Jeromes have boxes of those books to be distributed.
His efforts are rooted in cultural preservation, which includes the playing, carving, and gifting of hundreds of traditional flutes.
In his home are also legend booklets with many stories of Native American folklore, all written and illustrated by Jerome.
As a veteran, his country and his people are very important to him.
He enlisted in the Navy back in 1950, during the Korean War, serving for four years with 20 months aboard ship.
Before his time in the Navy, Jerome attended what is now Haskell Indian Nations University.
After years of wishing he completed Haskell, he received an honorary degree in 2009.
He also earned degrees from both UND and NDSU.
And last but certainly not least, among his accolades includes being the first Native American elected to the North Dakota State Senate in 1990.