Powder River Examiner -

Allen Fisher



"Short Bull"

May 28, 1981

July 9, 2018

"There is one thing for certain in this life other than death. People will come into your life and they will go, which in most cases is hard to process. You need not to worry about it, because the sun will rise in the morning and it could be your last. So chin up. You'll be alright."

~Allen Fisher, March 6, 2018

Hotoa'ȯhtšėhe'kėstaestse, Short Bull, left this world to continue his journey through the Milky Way on Monday, July 9, 2018. Allen Lynn Fisher (better known as Cool Al, Little Al, Square, or Fish) was born on May 28, 1981, in Hardin, Montana, to Donna Fisher and Jackie Burns, weighing 10lbs and 9.5 ounces. He was the second-born and first son of Donna Fisher. Al was baptized on December 15, 1985, at St. Labre Catholic Church.

The first few years of Al's life were spent on the Fisher Butte Ranch with his mother, siblings, and grandpa Bernadine. The family then moved to the Ashland area, and Al began Head Start at St. Labre where he met his best friend, Jake Gion. Al was a rambunctious child filled with endless energy, an energy that enlivened St. Labre Indian Elementary School (Ashland, MT) and McKinley Elementary (Billings, MT). After graduating from 8th grade at St. Labre Indian Middle School, Al took his athletic and academic talents on the road first to Broadus, to St. Labre and then to Lame Deer Public High School. In his words, he was the "black sheep" of the family for graduating from Lame Deer High School in May 2000, instead of St. Labre, the school traditionally attended by his family. It should be known that Al really embraced the black sheep role.

Throughout his childhood, Al was raised right. He thrived in "rez" basketball culture and rodeo, playing in countless tournaments across the western United States and being in the rodeo life with relatives. Basketball was Al's first love, but he was also a cowboy at heart and enjoyed sharing roping tips with his family; whether asked to or not. Al was an amazing, gifted athlete in both basketball and football and had many, many athletic accomplishments throughout his life. During his senior year, the Lame Deer Morning Star basketball team were the 4C District and 4C Conference Champions and made the State Tournament for the second time in two years. The Morning Stars finished fourth at State during Al's senior year. Al was named Mr. Hustle and had the best 2- and 3-point field goal percentages at the State Tournament. Additionally, Al was a "wicked good" football player. The Morning Stars played 6-man high school football that reached the playoffs and played televised games his junior and senior seasons. In Al's senior year, he was team MVP, made Southern C First-Team All-Conference at safety, First-Team All-Conference at tailback, and was selected to play in the 6-man State All-Star game where Al played so well that he was selected Offensive MVP. On the All-State Team, Al was selected 1st team offensive back and 2nd team defensive back. His energy was boundless and contagious; this served him well in his adult years as he continued to play basketball and took up bowling and softball. He was especially proud to have played with the Tongue River softball team. Al's all-star quickness and speed served him well in all sports.

After high school, Al entered the world of work. His first job was with Fisher Construction. It gave him a great source of pride to help Fisher Construction replace the stained-glass windows of St. Labre Parish. He also worked for other road construction firms and spent time firefighting as part of the fuels crew in the Custer National Forest (Ashland Ranger District) before deciding to enter college at Montana State University-Bozeman in 2003. Al was a knowledge seeker, and it soon became apparent that college was the right choice. While at MSU, Al received the Phyllis Berger Award for leadership, a prestigious honor given through the MSU Center for Native American Studies. Leadership, scholarship, and building beautiful memories with Jake, Shanny, Huey, the Demery boys at 8-mile, and with all he encountered characterized Al's college experience. He earned his bachelors' degree in Political Science at MSU-Bozeman in 2010.

Al was encouraged by elders, especially Steve Brady, to complete his education and to come back to help his tribe and that is what he did. From MSU, Al moved home to work in many capacities for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. He worked with the Environmental Protection Department as a solid waste coordinator and was instrumental in coordinating and bringing a CDL training to Lame Deer. He served as a media specialist for the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council and as a Human Resources Director for the Tribe. Under the Montana Office of Public Instruction, he was a Wraparound Coordinator for Lame Deer Schools. He contributed to a first-of-its kind pilot project coordinated between Chief Dull Knife College, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and Bureau of Land Management. He worked closely with Steve Brady to carry out this project which was an ecoregional ethnographic assessment that involved meeting with Northern Cheyenne Elders to gather traditional knowledge and stories of Cheyenne values and worldview of our plant relatives toward protection of our natural systems. Al also spent time employed at the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. Allen Fisher was a true servant to his people.

On top of Al's professional and academic accomplishments, he was so much more:

Al was a coach. He was passionate about developing people. He was drawn to kids and this showed through his dedication to, and enthusiasm for, coaching. Al loved coaching football and basketball and started coaching elementary football and 7th grade boys' basketball in Bozeman in 2007. Regardless of the level, Al wanted to push his teams to their full potential. He was so proud that one of his former football players from Bozeman received an offer and played football at the University of Washington, and that he coached one of Representative Steve Daines' children while in Bozeman! Recently, he was the head coach for the boys' basketball team at Lame Deer High School. His teams were always successful because of his love for his players and passion for the game. Al's love for basketball was so strong that he was unafraid to correct referees while in the stands or on the bench as coach! He was willing to mix it up to create a spark and light a fire for the teams he loved.

Al was passionate and caring. He lived life to the fullest. He was a person who had boundless energy; who shared his smile, humor, and laughter with everyone he met. Al's spirit was bright and infectious. Regardless of his own feelings or mood, he was always quick to share a laugh. He was entertaining with his stories and deep with his thoughts. He could argue sovereignty and political issues like none other, and then, go play with his nieces and nephews moments later. Al's core was centered around life and he was a model for how to live it.

Al honored his family. He was a humble person and lived in a way that honored his family first. Al was the first coach of many of his nieces, nephews and young cousins whether it was in basketball, football, rodeo, or life. All people felt valued in Al's presence. His love for his family was vast and expanded to people throughout the world. Al knew no strangers, only family members and friends. He loved all, will always be loved by all who knew him.

Al was an advocate for the people he loved. He truly lived the values and was knowledgeable of the tribal systems of the Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota, the tribes to which he belonged. Al was initiated into gourd dancing at a young age. He knew the histories of both tribes and was quick to share with anyone who would listen. His passion for tribal history and knowledge of treaties and federal law allowed him to think critically about how each shapes our current governmental systems. Al knew how to bring people together around culture. He worked incredibly hard to help and look out for his people. He was considered an exemplary member of the cultures he represented.

Al was compassionate and kind. He was giving in so many ways. From giving of his time to help with family events and friends needing help, to giving his possessions to whoever was in need. Al believed in treating everyone as a person, as an equal human being. He practiced and lived this in his position as a 6th grade teacher, helping students gain confidence and feel appreciated and honored for who they are. He was a mentor, a coach, a loyal friend, a charismatic individual who made everyone he met feel better. He lit up a room with his captivating smile and laugh. His stories would make your stomach and cheeks (not your butt cheeks) hurt from laughing. He was magical in his ability to remove anyone's pain with his personality.

Al had many other facets to his life that are innumerable to capture. However, he had a deep love for the Tongue River and surrounding area. He loved fishing the river and spent hours with his hook in the water with friends and family. He was also a very adept and talented drummer who played for the St. Labre, Broadus and Lame Deer pep bands. You could hear and feel his drumming before you even entered the gym.

Allen Lynn Fisher was the kind of person with whom you must surround yourself. He was one of the rare light bringers, game changers, and magic makers in this world. He challenged you, cracked your heart open, lifted you up, and made your spirit soar to new heights. He was an amazing person who recognized the awesomeness of all of creation. Hotoa'ȯhtšėhe'kėstaestse, Short Bull, was a wild heartbeat, someone you wanted on your journey and in your tribe.

Allen is survived by his mother Donna Fisher and his father Jackie (Teri) Burns; Adopted parents Scott (Betty) Gion; his grandmother Geraldine Fisher, Theda Foote; his sisters: Melissa Fisher and Harlee Burns, Jodeci Gion; brothers: Shawn Fisher, Wyatt (Shaika), Rylan, Wylie, and Tyler Burns, Hooper Thompson, Jacob (Shanny) Gion, Cody (Courtney) Gion; Nieces: Velma, Katie, and Shelby Fisher, Jessa Gion, Wacey Porter, Jandra Levi, Shiloh (Clay) McCormick; Nephews: Milen (Sara and baby Kaizlyn), Clancy, and Brayden Fisher, Carter Gion, Ty (Leona) Fischer, Virgil Tommy Z McCormick,Isaiah and Blake Tallbear; Uncles: Arlin, Vernon (Paula), Virgil (Myra), Steven Sr. (Martha), Allen (Sharon), Roy (Stephanie) Fisher, Ronald, JD (Amy), and Jimmy (Sue Chen) Burns, Huey (Jen) Foote, Dewey Foote; Aunts: Thelma Beaverheart, Shelly Fisher, Karyl (Cal) Winslow, Georgia Burns, Bonnie Burns, Marcellene Shoulderblade, Wilma Shoulderblade, Mary Shoulderblade, Sara Young whom is also his God Mother, Richard McCormick Sr. whom is his God Father, Kateri (Zac) Foote, Lavonda Foote.

Cousins: Shawna (Ken), Corbin, Riley, Delaney, Randy, Elizabeth, Jonah, Blaine, Krystal, Kasey, Jayme, Janelle, Josie, Marti, Virgil Jr, Kittybelle, Vernon (Alicia), Ronnie (Arly), Jantessa, Preston, Samantha Pourier, Dane (Jaydee), Lindsey, Sherrell, Steven Jr., Richelle, Rissa, Isaiah, Steven Spottedwolf, Roy Jr., Bernadine, Bryan, Marissa, Darrell (Holly), James (Melissa), Arlin, Stewart, Linda (Emerson), Bernie (Erika),Sharlyce Parker, Richard (Camille) Jr., Virgil, Tommy Sr., Misty (Clint), Edith, Shelly, Sharee, Ronette, Ronnie, Robbie, Jolene, Sugar, Mia, John Jr. Payton, Waylan, Kyle, Shanlynn, Lane, Stacey, Phylis, Melanie, Jayna, Georgette, Junior, Casey, and Cassie. Kyle (Magi), Mariah, Kelsey, Kadence, Khloe, Baby Dale, Barry, Wendell Lefthand, Fredrerica (Bill) Lefthand and Kyle Jr. Fraser.

Special Friends: Jana Waters, Jr (Debbie) Charette, Joni Kay(Ollyana), Gloria Waters, Tommy (Brandy) Charette, Huey (Jennifer) Foote, Barry (Roxanne) Howe, Billie Black Hoop, Brian(Edina) Redstar, Richard (StaciBeth) Seestheground Jr., Muddy Grill Family, John Lei and Family, Justin Hugs, Festus Hugs, Austin (Tanya) Two Moons and family, Gernell (Shalene) Killsnight, Ben and Sam Demerey, Oly and Theresa McMakin, Eleece (John) Hill, Melissa Lonebear, Antone (Sherry) Foote, Simon(September) Walksalong, Brandon Tall Bull, Rae Dawn Lei, His God Son Payton Lonebear, Trisha(Eric) Sherman, Hank(Chelsey) Samonte, Ray(Johanna) Martin, Shari (Mike) Petryszak, Shirleen (Mike) Hieb, Val (Bryan) Martin, Shannon (Rob) Gronowski, Shelly (Steve) Schmitz, Tim (Liz) Martin, Larae (Doug) Paulson, Mary Jo (Jens) Andersen, Linda Brady and Family, Bob (Sally), Matt and Sara Hagadorn, Coach Jason Grebe, Steve (Tammy) Ewing, Gordon Real Bird and Family.

Extended families include Shoulderblade, Killsnight, Spang, Two Two, Foote, Littlewhiteman, Black Weasel, Janis, Gress. Our family is very large and we apologize if we have left anyone out in our time of griefs.

Allen is preceded in death by his grandparents Bernadine Fisher, Thelma Two Two, Emil Fraser, Dempsey & Annie Burns, Uncles Milen One Bear, Eugene Beaverheart, Robbie Burns, Aunts Leslie Fisher, Bernadine Bahr, Velma Lee Fisher, Eva Mae One Bear, Cousins, Lisa Burns, Tiffany Burns, Ozzy Wilson, Brother, Dustin Two Moons, Preston Gray, Nephews Clint Ross Fitzpatrick, Jr., Xavier Alan Charles Gion, and Mentors Steven Brady, Sr. and Charles Littleoldman.

Special Groups:

Lame Deer High School Boys Basketball Teams, Lame Deer Elementary Football Team, St. Labre High School Girls Basketball Teams, Blue Waters H.S. Girls Travel Ball Team, Jr. High Bozeman Boys Basketball Team, Jr. High Bozeman Football Team, No Luv, ShyTown, Laurel Pool Basketball Officials, Nick's Hamburgers Bowling Team, Nick's Furies Bowling Team, Community Center Bowl Bowling Team, Waters Edge Bowling Team, Tongue River Mens Softball Team, LaFamilia CoEd Softball Team, past and present N.C. Tribal Council


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