Volume 122, Number
Duane Howard had illustrious rodeo career; no regrets
BY DORREEN YELLOW BIRD Grand Forks Herald
Duane, you are one of the honorees in the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, N.D. How long did you cowboy?
I am 72 years old. I started riding in rodeos when I was about 17 or 18. I rode from 1953 to 1961. In 1961, I got hurt pretty bad in Cheyenne, Wyo., so I was off for two or three years. Then, I rodeoed after that, but I didn’t ride bucking horses. I just rode bulls a little bit.
I guess I rodeoed until about 1974.
What inspired you to go into rodeo riding?
I always liked rodeo riding and being involved with horses and cattle. I used to go to Fort Totten and see the different riders, mostly Indian cowboys. There were Indian cowboys who came from the Three Affiliated Tribes, too. There were some pretty good guys here, but the real good ones came from the Fort Berthold reservation.
My dad and mother raised Shetland ponies, and I started out with them. I also learned to ride on old saddle horses, but I only rode bareback until I was in the 7th or 8th grade, when I got a saddle. Riding bareback helped me with balance.
I started getting on sucking calves down at my great-uncle Charlie Geske’s place near Minnewaukan. He used to provide the bucking horses for Fort Totten rodeos. There were some Indian people who had good horses, too, but when the rodeos needed a big bunch of horses, they went to Uncle Charlie.
Uncle Charlie had a little arena below the barn. Every other Sunday or so, they’d buck out some horses or ride steers. I think that is where I got started.
How did you place in the beginning of your career?
At first, it wasn’t much of a contest. Most of us didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t have any equipment, but we just gradually invented things.
Then, we went to some rodeos just for "mount money," meaning there was no contest-riding. You’d get $5 for a bareback or $7.50 for a bronc. I rode bareback horse.
Then I met Bob Rindt, a teacher at Fort Totten. Bob would put on rodeos, too. When he wasn’t doing that, he would take us to rodeos where we could get on "mount money" rides.
Rindt got me on my first bucking horse. That was a big deal for me. The first horses I got on, I rode with a double rein like women. I was pretty good at staying on. I couldn’t do much, but I could stay on.
Bob made a pair of chaps for me. They are the ones hanging in the Cowboy Hall of Fame. They’re 53 years old. Grandma Longie from Fort Totten shot these bucks with a .22, and it made a small hole. I got the Indian-tanned buckskin from her, and Bob made the rest.
One Fourth of July in Mandan, I was in the amateur bronc riding. They threw all the horses into a hat and the amateurs and professionals drew from the same hat. That is the first time I saw Joe Chase of Fort Berthold. He rode this buckskin horse. He wore a white shirt, and he was real tanned. He looked good. I thought, "If I could ever ride like that guy, I’d be good."
I admired some other riders, too, but Joe was the one who stuck in my mind.
I remember the first time I saw a riding bull: They just about had to move me to shut the gate, it threw me so quick.
Then, I got to be with Alvin Nelson. He was a good cowboy. He could ride bulls, but he didn’t like to, and he was probably one of the best bareback riders there was when he was right. He rode broncs good all the time.
I didn’t have a car or saddle, but I finally got my spurs put together, and I had a rope.
We went to Albuquerque, Roswell and Deming, N.M. Alvin did well. I didn’t draw well in the bronc riding but did some bull riding; then we went down into Louisiana to three little rodeos way back. One was Natchitoches, La. I won at bull riding.
In 1953, Tom Tescher, Alvin Nelsen and Ivan Fiffer took me back to Gary, Ind., and Rochester, N.Y. I didn’t have a saddle, but I had a bareback rigging and a bull rope. I was riding bareback then. I could stay on and spur out pretty fair, but it was then I was going to be a bull rider.
I didn’t do very well in 1954. My dad said, "You’re not going anywhere. Why don’t you quit?" I didn’t want to do that, and I didn’t want to be a farm laborer.
But I was runner-up in 1955, 1960 and one other year in bull riding for the RCA international title. The year I got hurt, I was way up there in the standings.
In 1960, I had a good year. I won about $3,200 and won the all-around, but they didn’t give anything that year.
In 1961, I got hurt on a bronc ride. A horse fell on me after the whistle.
It was a big, tall jumping horse, good to ride. The pickup man knocked the horse’s feet out from under him. It slapped my head on the ground. It sounded like a watermelon, they said. I had a brain hemorrhage and was unconscious. It took me two or three years before I could walk and talk.
After that, I didn’t rodeo hard, but I did manage to place. I also got married in 1957.
What is the difference between riding a bull and a bronc?
It takes balance in all aspects of riding. It is more flexibility. You can’t think about it. You know before it happens by your feelings and watching the bull’s head.
Bronc riding is the easiest. There are more older bronc riders because bronc riding isn’t hard on you if get your timing down, and don’t struggle with or fight your animal — just go with the flow. When you’re riding good, you hardly even get sore. That’s why you see some guys ride so long.
What’s a good horse?
A good horse or draw is one that jumps and kicks and turns back. It’s showy and level-headed, snappy and flashy so you can score high.
For a bull: good jumping, kicking and spinning.
Do you have any regrets about rodeoing?
No, none whatsoever. I got to see different parts of the country and meet many wonderful people. If I had my life to live over, I wouldn’t do it differently.
Not many people can say they spent their career riding bucking horses or bulls, but Duane Howard can. After growing up near Minnewaukan, he traveled the nation with well-known rodeo cowboys such as Tim and Tom Tescher, Dean Armstrong and Alvin Nelson.
Howard won first place in several national rodeos. His career was cut short when a horse rolled on him. After two years of rehabilitation, he went back to rodeoing but only locally. When he retired from rodeo riding, he ranched in the Minnewaukan area. He and his wife moved when Devils Lake inundated his place.
They now live in Sheyenne, N.D. They have three daughters.
Minnewaukan native Duane Howard had an illustrious career in rodeo competition. He was among the first to be inducted into the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame at Medora. He now lives in Sheyenne.
Commissioners agree to release flood funds for Maddock building
At their meeting September 20, the Benson County commissioners decided to purchase a different vehicle for the Benson County Sheriff’s Department.
Commissioners were unanimous in approving the purchase of a 2004 Chevrolet with 300 miles on it for $14,900 from New Rockford Chevrolet. The vehicle has a police package. Commissioners urged Sheriff Ned Mitzel to attempt to trade in a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria on the Chevrolet.
Present were commissioners Jason Lee and Curtis Hvinden of Maddock, Ed Ripplinger of Leeds, Barry Cox of Warwick and Dwain Brown of Sheyenne. Also present was County Auditor Bonnie Erickson.
Benson County State’s Attorney James Wang said it appeared the water dispute in Normania Township was near resolution. The ND Department of Transportation (DOT) was looking over an agreement drafted by Wang which will give the Benson County Water Board a "license" to operate a plugged culvert adjacent to US 2. The culvert has remained plugged because Ronald Hausmann of Churchs Ferry had an injunction placed against it being opened.
Hausmann has since agreed to lifting the injunction but the DOT has been wary of opening the culvert because of liability. The county has agreed to shoulder the responsibility in an effort to get a slough drained near the Daniel McConnell farm. The water is creating significant problems for McConnell and the commissioners are determined that McConnell will get relief, one way or another.
Wang said that as soon as the DOT approves the "license" Durbin Excavating of Devils Lake will be contacted to unplug the culvert and install a gate so the discharge of water can be regulated by the water board. The gate can be shut if it is determined the water is creating unexpected problems.
David Johnson and Bobby Buckmier met with the commissioners in regard to the $90,000 the county pledged to construction of a Multi-Purpose Building in Maddock which will house the Benson County 4-H program. The $90,000 came from flood insurance money at the old 4-H fair site at Minnewaukan. The Foss property on which the building will be located has been deeded over to the city of Maddock and all bills related to construction of the building will be handled by the Maddock City Council. Benson County did more than $30,000 in preparation work at the site, hauling in many truckloads of fill. Commissioners agreed to release the $90,000 on condition that there be some reimbursement to the county for the preparation work once construction is completed. The building committee has spent about $76,000 in private donations.
Gene "Shorty" Hager told commissioners the county highway department would have to charge more for the work it does. Hager told them that $3 gas is ruining his budget. The county spent about $45,000 for fuel in August.
Commissioners met with department heads in formulating the 2006 budget. A copy of the proposed budget is published in this issue of the Farmers Press.
Terpening Construction of Maddock was busy last week pouring concrete at the site of the new Multi-Purpose Building west of the Maddock School.
Students visit farm
Leeds Elementary School students recently visited the corn maze and pumpkin patch at the Jim and Judy Engstrom farm near Leeds. Left to right are Rochelle Hansen, Garrett Johnson and Chace Laube.
In the corn maze are, left to right, back row: Kayla Wangler, Chelsi Olson, Jeni Swanson and Chace Engstrom. Middle row: Andrea Jorgenson, Darien Rolle, Kendra Leibfried and Thomas Urness. In front is Kalvin Slaubaugh.
Shoots big honker
Nadia Campbell of Devils Lake shot this big honker in Benson County September 25. The 12-year-old was hunting with her father, Clint Campbell.
Pictured with her is their chocolate lab, Bruin.
Leeds class holds reunion
The Leeds High School Class of 1955 held its 50th anniversary class reunion in Bismarck July 29-30. Twenty of the class of 36 attended the event. Brian Larson was in charge of arrangements. Friday a picnic supper was held in the motel where the group was meeting. Saturday morning they visited the Heritage Center on the Capitol Grounds and had their group picture taken on the Capitol steps. In the afternoon Brian gave two shifts of pontoon rides on the Missouri River. A buffet supper was held in a motel in the evening.
Sunday morning the group met in the meeting room where a classmate, Bob Nilson, a Lutheran pastor from Kalispell, Mont. conducted worship with communion. Most of the class had been confirmed by Pastor Nilson’s father, Rev. M.J. Nilson when he was a pastor in Leeds. After coffee everyone departed for their respective homes.
Those attending and their spouses were: Sharleen (Halvor-son) and Erling Axness of Leeds, Hubert and Joan Blegen of Kindred, Janet Ann (Anderson) Carvell of Washburn, Nick Deplazes of Granville, Janice (Geisen) and Howard Frisk of McLeod, Glenn and Janice Gransberg of Grand Forks, Don and DeEtt Haugen of York, Sherilyn (Fogelson) Julson of Dickinson, Ron Julson of Wahpeton, Norma (Kinneberg) and Bruce Kinnear of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Idell
(Julson) Knudsvig of Annan-dale, Minn., Brian and Connie Larson of Bismarck, Bernard and Sulanne McPherson of Auburn, Wash., Roland Nelsen of Minne-waukan, Pastor Bob Nilsen of Kalispell, Mont., Audrey (Bisbee) Pierson and Marvin Schaap of Lisbon, Janyce (Maristuen) Selland of Boise, Idaho, Margy (Lybeck) Stone of Knox and Joe and Jean Urness of Minot.
Unable to attend were Lorelie (Marchus) Allen, Marcia (Maute) Armstrong, Corrinne (Johnson) Boyer, Jerry Dryden, Eloise (Kinne-berg) Fisher, Shirley
(Skeie) Harkness, Les Hendrie, Jim Hill, Jean (Sosalla) Jorgenson, Roger Knutson, Walter Larson, Eldon Paulson, Janice Kay (Anderson) Persinger, Miriam (Long) Royer, Carol (Lundeen) Thompson and Stella (Birkland) Weaver.
Two class members, Margaret Alexander and Jeaneen Nolte, are deceased.
Members of the Leeds Class of 1955 who attended a reunion in Bismarck are pictured. Left to right, back row, are Ron Nelsen, Sharleen (Halvorson) Axness, Janet Ann (Anderson) Carvell, Janice (Geisen) Frisk, Norma
(Kinneberg) Kinnear, Audrey (Bisbee) Pierson, Sherilyn (Fogelson) Julson and Margy (Lybeck) Stone. Middle row: Joe Urness, Don Haugen, Ron Julson, Glenn Gransberg, Hubert Blegen, Bernard McPherson and Marvin Schaap. Front
row: Idell (Julson) Knudsvig, Brian Larson, Janyce (Maristuen) Selland and Bob Nilson. Not pictured is Nick Deplazes.
Area artist JoAnn Copeland taught a step-by-step lesson on the techniques of rosemaling, assisted by 5th and 6th grade art teacher Audrey Herman. The Leeds School provides a unique and diverse art program for all grades. Left to right are Thomas Urness, JoAnn Copeland, Audrey Herman and Justin Wangler.
Here are two examples of rosemaling by 5th and 6th graders at Leeds.
Win fishing tourney
First place winners of The Big Show Fishing Tournament on Devils Lake Sept.
17 and 18 were Dennis Andruski of Grand Forks and Larry Zimmerman of Napoleon. They are pictured with Dan Lohnes, right, manager of the Spirit Lake Marina. The duo would need a wagon to haul home their trophies from the weekend event. They took home $10,000 for their two-day catch of 52.51 lbs. They were also the winners of the Fifth Annual Spirit Lake Marina Walleye Classic Fishing Tournament Sept. 2 and 3 and won the largest walleye award with a weight of 8.15 lbs. Thirty-seven teams participated in the tournament, which was the final tournament on the Casino Cup Circuit.
Here’s proof that fishing is good
Jason Feldner of Perch-Eyes Guide Service of Minnewaukan ended the open water fishing season with his party getting its limit of big walleyes.
Feldner holds a 7-pounder.
Mike Davis of West Chester, Pa. holds a 6-pounder. Davis was in North Dakota visiting his son, Kevin.
Kevin Davis of the Minot Air Force Base holds a 6-1/2-pounder. They ended up getting 10 walleyes Sept. 25.
ND Farmers Union hosts DC fly-in
More than 40 ND Farmers Union members joined over 200 farmers and ranchers from across the country in Washington, DC earlier this month for the National Farmers Union’s legislative fly-in. Participants urged congressional members to address rising energy prices, support disaster relief and oppose budget cuts in agricultural spending. Among those participating in the event was Joann Bergrud of Maddock. She is serving on ND Farmers Union’s 2005 Policy and Action Committee.
"Personal office visits gave us the opportunity to take rural America’s concerns to Washington," Bergrud said. "We were able to explain to members of Congress the economic effects of high energy prices, the danger of budget cuts to essential agricultural programs and the importance of receiving adequate disaster relief for struggling crops."
Higher fuel and fertilizer costs topped the list of issues Farmers Union members discussed with legislators. Farmers and ranchers are among the largest fuel users in the United States and face significant increases in operating expenses. Unlike other businesses, farmers and ranchers cannot pass along increased production costs, because they do not set the prices for their commodities.
"Producers in North Dakota are facing a loss of nearly one-third of their net farm income this year," said Robert Carlson, who led the North Dakota delegation. "Fuel expenses are setting all-time record highs right in the middle of harvest, and the prices farmers are receiving for their crops are dropping at the same time."
Farmers Union members also spoke out against impending budget cuts to agricultural programs. "Cuts to agriculture, food, and nutrition programs would place a further burden on the already struggling rural economy,"
added Bergrud. In addition, Farmers Union members voiced support for implementing mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), and a federally controlled National Animal ID System.
During the fly-in, the North Dakotans met with Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan in the US Capitol and with Representative Earl Pomeroy in a hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building. In addition, the farmers and ranchers were guests at the US Department of Agriculture. USDA officials listened to the concerns of fly-in participants regarding current and proposed federal policies.
Joann Bergrud of Maddock was among more than 200 farmers and ranchers who voiced concerns to lawmakers on Capitol Hill during a Farmers Union legislative fly-in to Washington, DC.