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Sunny Real Bird is new Ronan School District Director of Indian Ed

By Lailani Upham

Sunny Real Bird, Director of Indian Education, Ronan School District visits SKC campus. (Courtesy photo) Sunny Real Bird, Director of Indian Education, Ronan School District visits SKC campus. (Courtesy photo)

RONAN — She has made almost a complete circle in education in her young life; Sunny Real Bird, the new Ronan School District Director of Indian Education has made her home very recently here on the Flathead Reservation.

She said it was her desire to come back to Montana to be near her family – although the 400-mile drive is nothing to a Montanan, than a 1,180-mile drive; Real Bird says she is delighted to be on the Flathead Reservation and able to see her mom in a days journey to Billings.

Real Bird moved from Anadarko, Oklahoma where she served as the Bureau of Indian Affairs Department Chair for High School Math and on the Leadership Committee Board.

Since her graduate studies University of Oregon in Curriculum and Teaching with a focus on Secondary Education in Mathematics she has been teaching in grades from elementary to high school she says.

She also attended Montana State University-Billings and received an undergraduate in Elementary Education and with a minor in Mathematics.

While serving in Oklahoma BIA Department Chair for Math and Leadership, Real Bird facilitated teacher meetings and delivered new curricula on how to incorporate multi-cultural activities to various lessons to meet the BIE Native Star standards.

Her Indian name given to her is, “Raises Good Children.” In her current position at Director of Indian Education it is her responsibility to be an advocate for Indian students, families and community members. Exactly, what she was born and purposed to do – raise (teach) good children in her path.

Although Ms. Real Bird looks like a high school student herself, she has two young ones of her own; a three-year old girl, Amazing Day, and twelve-year old boy, Lansing Trey, – they are her world, she beams.

Her young appearance possibly gives her an edge with the young Native students – as she has found in the short time of being in her position, “They (students) are opening up.”

The role of the Director is her passion and that is to assure a meaningful participation in the educational process and the programs of the district.

One of the areas she believes can use some help is more community involvement from parents she says.

It appears there are very few parent volunteers coming into the schools, she says, especially at the high school level.

It would be great to see that increase and she is open to community member and parent ideas to see this improve.

“There are so many things going on in the schools where parents can get involved.”

Real Bird said the schools are always looking for a Salish, Kootenai, or Pend d’Oreille elder or speaker to come in and speak, or simply read a book with language intact or a cultural component included.

At the middle school level, a great place to start as a parent or family member to get involved, is to mark their calendars for school assemblies when students make honor roll to show support and recognition for the student, she advises.

At a high school level, a helpful place to start is to get involved in the Indian Education Parent Committee meetings and discussions, Real Bird adds.

Through her responsibility of being the official representative of the school and communicating to the school on the development, and implementation of the Indian Education For All curriculum, she says it would be beneficial to the students’ success to hear from the parents.

In order to provide guidance to the teachers in the development of Native American studies curricula, she agrees that a larger impact of community involvement will heed to the achievement of Indian students.

For more information on Indian Education Parent Committee meetings and locations; contact Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Education coordinator Miranda Burland at (406) 675-2700, ext., 1074; or email her at

For more information on how to get involved or to bring ideas to Indian Education Director, Sunny Real Bird at (406) 676-3390, ext. 7209; or email

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