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American Indian Society President and Inaugural Ball Founder Mitchell Bush Has Died At 82

Onondaga Elder and Founder of the American Indian Society's Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C., Mitchell Bush has died at 82.

Mitchell L. Bush, Jr., a highly-respected elder of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation and former president of the American Indian Society of Washington, D.C., died on Saturday March 17, 2018 in Spotsylvania, Virginia. He passed on surrounded by family and friends. He was 82-years-old and died due to complications related to his heart.

Mitchell Bush was Onondaga and worked often with Virginia tribes.

Mitchell Bush was Onondaga and worked often with Virginia tribes.

Mitchell Bush was born February 1, 1936, in Syracuse, New York and was educated at the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas from 1951 to 1956. He is a United States Army veteran having served from 1958 to 1961.

Bush previously served and retired as the Chief Administrator of Tribal Enrollment Services for the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.

Bush, was a founder and a former 25-year president of the American Indian Society, who cared for the AIS's property at Indian Pines, (a Caroline subdivision with future plans to build a cultural center.) He was also one of the founders of the successful American Indian Society Inaugural Ball.

Though he served as president of the AIS from 1966 to 1991, he often lightheartedly joked that he was no relation to the other President Bush.

In addition to his service to the AIS, he served on the Virginia Council on Indians in 1989 and 2004 and was an active participant of 1990 Census Bureau's Census Planning Conference on Race and Ethics. He was a tour leader to Virginia Indian Reservations for the Smithsonian, an Instructor, Lecturer and Traditional lndian Dancer for the American Indian Society and a Judge at Miss Indian America and Miss Indian USA Pageants in Washington, D.C. He was also a keynote speaker at the Pentagon USAHEC's observance of Native American Heritage Month.

Bush had published the American Indian Society Newsletter since 1966 and the American Indian Society Cookbook. He has appeared in both movies and television, including the George Washington TV mini-series; The Broken Chain produced by CNN, The New World, John Adams and numerous other television programs.

Over the years, Bush was recognized by a multitude of Native organizations for his work.

These honors include:

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American Indian Society Outstanding Elder/Advisor Award (1996)

American Indian Society Outstanding Club Member Award (1993)

Honored by the American Indian Community House/ Thunderbird Dancers of NYC (1991)

Honored at the Nanticoke (Delaware) Pow Wow

Points of Light Certificate, Department of Interior (1990)

Certificate for Outstanding Public Service to the U.S. Department of Interior (1990)

American Indian Society Distinguished Service Award (1990)

Maharishi Award conferred by the Maharishi University (1985)

He was predeceased by his parents, Mitchell L. Bush and Sarah Margaret Skendore and his sister, Carol Gonyea. Mitchell is survived by four brothers, Stephen Gonyea of Virginia, Ray Gonyea of Indiana, John Gonyea and Tony Gonyea both of the Onondaga Nation; three sisters, Anna Homer and Wendy Gonyea both of the Onondaga Nation and Darla Esposito of Otisco and nieces, nephews and friends. His brother Frederick Alan Gonyea has passed.

Services will be 6:00 pm–8:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at the Covenant Funeral Home at 1310 Courthouse Road; Stafford, VA., Burial will be at the Indian Pines Cemetery at a date to be announced.

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on TwitterFollow @VinceSchilling