Jump to Navigation

Richard Rasmussen

Richard Rasmussen

Federal Agent, Parent and Community Leader

Born: MT, United States
Heritage: Native American

What’s important in life is what you leave. You leave it better than what it was when you started.

Richard Rasmussen

Federal Agent, Parent and Community Leader

Are you ready? That doesn’t mean I’m organized. This is my interpretation of my life and where I’ve been. My life started in a small community in Montana. I was born on December 22, 1948. I was a service brat, which means my Dad was in the Army. He went overseas to Korea. I then grew up in a town called Old Town, Oklahoma. It was a little like a suburb.

One thing they had was an Indian school. An Indian school was a process of assimilation.
Assimilation means you give up your ways. They tried to do this by taking students your age and taking them off the reservation and out of their homes and putting them in schools.

We had a section where the Indian School was called Riverside. We had this big long section of government houses because the Bureau of Indian Affairs had an office there. Of course this was the era of segregation. You have Indians in Old Town and then you have the blacks and then you have the whites and nobody ever mixed together.

When I was ten years old my dad was overseas in Korea and had a brain hemorrhage and died. My mom was working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and relocated in northern Minnesota. I grew up in Bemidji.

The happiest day of my life was when I spent time in Washington DC and they said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to put a museum up showing Native American culture to everybody in the United States?” If you go there you’ll see my name on the wall because I gave them money to share the knowledge on a continuing basis of education for native culture.

We celebrate holidays by gathering and having fun. Sharing expressions and sharing a drum to remind us that we are part of Mother Earth. We acknowledge the East for the sunrise. When I look South I know the warm air comes and gives spring. When I look North I realize the struggle the winter brings. When I look West, I realize that eagles are free.

I have eagle feathers. Eagle feathers are very important in our culture. Not everybody gets them. These two were given to me by my eldest son in recognition that I was a warrior and held up as an example to him and a lot of the people of the community. Eagles are strong. When I see an eagle it means that nature has recognized that I’m doing something right and shares the freedom of the sky and the freedom of the land.


Are You Ready?

Honoring Richard Rasmussen

Are You Ready
(Honoring Richard Rasmussen)

Are you ready?
That doesn’t mean I’m organized
Are you ready?
I’m no different than you guys
People call me stupid, but I’m just dumb
Enough to keeping asking “How come?”
You’re so smart, but to you I say,
“We were here before Columbus Day!”

Are you ready?
They treated me like a fool
Are you ready?
They sent to an Indian School
A process of assimilation
They took us off the reservation
They wanted me to be like them
But here I am Medoewin

Are you ready?
My Dad went overseas
Are you ready?
He died from a brain hemorrhage When I was ten years of age
My mom got a job with the B.I.A.
In northern Minnesota, Bemidji
Close to the source of the Mississippi

Are you ready?
Spent my life in a canoe
Are you ready? Some people say things that aren’t true
Like you’re Jungle Bunny ‘cause your skin is red
Nothing but a savage is what they said
You won’t become nothing, you won’t succeed
So I turned my back when they bullied. Don’t tease me!

Are you ready?
I joined the debate team
Are you ready?
I got my high school degree
I went on to college, got my B.A.
In Political Science now look what they say
Got elected to become
President of the Political Science club

Are you ready? When I look around
Are you ready? There weren’t too many to be found
In that school who looked like me
The only time I won the lottery
Was for the draft after I married
So I enrolled in Navy Officer training

Are you ready? Got a job on Skylab
Are you ready? When the space capsule would land
I said, “That way!” and off they went
After my time was spent
Became a federal agent to earn a buck
Inspecting buses and trucks

Are you ready? Have a boy of my own
Are you ready? With my wife built a home
Plus adopted a couple of kids
A brother and sister combination
Each of them means the world to me
If you believe in yourself you will succeed

Are you ready? Yes, I have been blest
Are you ready? Is my life a success?
I have eagles feathers. I carry a pipe
I give you this advice
If you fall on your face, get back up
Don’t ever say you’re not smart enough

Words & music by Larry Long with Mr. Plantz’s & Ms. Robinson’s 6th Grade Class of Cedar Manor Intermediate Center.
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

© Larry Long 2008 / BMI