Jay Thomas Bad Heart Bull was a writer and leader of the Native American community in Minneapolis, devoting much of his life to helping youth and serving his people through his work with the Division of Indian Work, Little Earth of United Tribes and Native American. Community Development Institute.
Under his leadership, NACDI organized the first Minneapolis mayoral candidate forums in the Indigenous community. He also helped persuade the city of Minneapolis to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in 2014, an action soon followed by the city of St. Paul and then the state of Minnesota.
In recent years, Bad Heart Bull has redefined his life by caring for his ailing father and young son, Quill, while his wife Carly (Beane) Bad Heart Bull worked for the Bush Foundation and later the Native Ways. Federation. He had planned to return to work once Quill started kindergarten, but died suddenly on August 9. He was 42 years old.
“Jay was an old soul,” Carly said. “He had this ability to understand our traditional teachings and ceremonies, and the importance of healing, and the importance of holding onto these things and incorporating them both in our present life, but also in our future,” to create a better world for our children. “
Bad Heart Bull was born in Pine Ridge, SD. He was from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and enrolled in the Sioux Oglala Tribe of South Dakota. He attended St. Thomas More High School in Rapid City, SD; Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, SD, and the University of Minnesota, where he focused on Native American studies.
As a child, he loved the snow, recalls his mother, Loretta (Gray Day) Bad Heart Bull. He constantly asked for stories about the past, seeking to understand how his ancestors lived, their motivations and the consequences of their decisions. What sacred places meant to people. How to call things by their original name.
“He was really curious, and he was really a different kid in that regard,” she said. “He kept us on our toes.
As an artist, Bad Heart Bull had a deep inner life, building on his connection to the earth, which manifested in his poetry.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Louise Erdrich was his friend. She was impressed with her poem ‘Matches’, which begins with “‘There is only a limited amount of stories that fit in one book / Before she has to burn and be told.’ “
“I thought about this line because it looks like it was written by a much older writer,” Erdrich said. “And it hurts, because I know there were so many more stories to write in Jay’s book. The story would have been original, surprising and engaging, because that’s how Jay was.”
Bad Heart Bull was an avid golfer who considered Hiawatha his playground, a bowler, dancer and quiz expert on 1980s movies with an infectious sense of humor and an almost surprising way of digging deep in the life of his friends, said Joseph Brown Thunder.
“Knowing Jay is not only loving Jay, but being loved by Jay. He really wanted to know you,” Brown Thunder said. “I can’t stress enough that he was one of the prettiest. The world is a little less bright. But I can’t wait to see him again.”
Along with his wife, son and mother, Bad Heart Bull is survived by his father, Thomas Bad Heart Bull; siblings Lance Bad Heart Bull, Kevin Bad Heart Bull, Justin Gray Day and Ryan Bad Heart Bull.
Services have taken place.
Susan From • 612-673-4028