Indian Country remembers George H.W. Bush a tweet at a time

George H.W. Bush was the 41st president of the United States. (George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation | Facebook)

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye

Former president sent handwritten postcards and had 'sweaty' hands

When I read about the passing of George H.W. Bush, I immediately reflected to a nearly vivid memory during my fifth grade year.

My teacher assigned us a book report. This could be any book we chose, but for some odd reason I chose to read a book about George Herbert Walker Bush. Another note: I was obsessed with presidents at the age of 10. This inspired me to become the first woman president of the United States. (My teacher said Hillary Clinton might beat me to it. She was almost right.)

The 41st president traveled to Farmington, New Mexico to rally for his son, George W. Bush, as he was running for president. From what I can recall I was the only student who went on this school field trip to see a former president with my teacher and her husband.

At the end of the rally, my teacher’s husband helped me get to the front on 41’s way out. He pushed me passed the Secret Service agents, big guys dressed in black suits, just so I can stick out my left hand and shake the former CIA director’s hand.

I was so happy. (Again, I was 10 and read all about him.) I told her and my parents that his hand was “sweaty.”

This day was documented in my school district’s newsletter. (We have a copy of it in storage. I reached out to the school district to find it but no luck.)

Former President Bush released a statement announcing his father’s death just after Jim McGrath, his post-presidency spokesman, did.

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

H.W. Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts.

His memorial service is today at the Washington National Cathedral and can be viewed live at the link above. Another service will be held tomorrow in Texas. The World War II naval aviator will be laid to rest tomorrow at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum next to his wife, Barbara Bush and daughter Robin.

President Trump issued an executive order and declared today as a National Day of Mourning for the former president. The order closed federal offices and excused “all Federal employees from duty.” CNN lists which offices exactly are closed or have limited services.

Donald Woody and Warren Stade of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota tell H.W. Bush farewell at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Stade carries on this family tradition by paying respects to former presidents or “distinguished statesmen” and attends their “Lying in State,” according to his good friend, Marlene Helgemo.

READ MORE:Dead at 94; former President George H.W. Bush called for 'kinder, gentler nation'

Nov. 30, he passed away on the last day of Native American Heritage Month. He and President Ronald Reagan designated American Indian Week in November as “requested by Congress.” In 1990, he was the first president to proclaim November as Native American Heritage Month.

The famous sculptor Allan Houser, Chiricahua Apache, received the National Medal of the Arts, the first Native American Artist to do so, from the former president in 1992.

Allan Houser received the National Medal of the Arts from President George H.W. Bush in 1992. (Allan Houser | Facebook)

I know I wasn’t the only one with memories of the former president.

Debbie Jackson-Dennison on Facebook thought about the time her ill dad received a handwritten postcard from the “very honorable man.”

“I recall when my dad became very ill with cancer in 1992, my sister brought a handwritten postcard to dad’s hospital bed in Chinle, [Arizona] that was from President George H.W. Bush, expressing his appreciation for our daddy and his hope, wishing hi better health,” she wrote. “Dad was so pleased that he was thought of by the President of the United States of America.”

People responded to her memory.

Even the Navajo Nation president-elect expressed his condolences.

​Russell Begaye, Navajo Nation president stated H.W. Bush’s proclamation in 1992 as the Year of the American Indian, which was 500 years after Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas.

Here is a collection of social media responses to the former president's passing.

The National Congress of American Indians gave a statement on the former president. (Twitter)

On Facebook, Elizabeth TopSky wrote: "A younger version of myself with President Bush."

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter:@jourdanbb.

NCAI DISCLAIMER -The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.

Comments (3)
No. 1-3

Implemented the US Federal recognition (Support) of US Indian Gaming - signed into federal law by Ronald Reagan - October 1988.....GHWB took office in January 1989!


I remember someone in the Bush administration had a young woman tearfully give testimony to a Congressional Committee, that Saddaam Hussein’s soldiers had gone into a Kuwaiti hospital and thrown premature infants from their incubators onto the floor. This testimony was not much later proven false, but it still swayed public opinion for a war. A war that was little more than an oil support war.

I had no respect for Bush after that. Not that I’d ever had much, after one of his tax breaks got me a whole .09 in my paycheck. Like 9 lousy cents an hour was going to get me out of the lower class. He got a war started with the help of a lie. Just another rich, entitled politician all too eager to get our military killed in a purposeless war. And it looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.


I remember reading an article. President Bush did a great thing for the stat of South Dakota. And I`m glad he did. He to got rid of Columbus Day. And Changed the holiday to Native American Day. This was done in 1988. I was twenty years old then. Now if only we can get rid of Columbus day all over America. And change it to Native American Day all over America. That would be a good thing to do.