HELENA, Mont. When Denise Juneau won the general election for Montana superintendent of public instruction, she became the first American Indian elected to a statewide executive office in that state.
Juneau, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, was an English teacher at New Town High School for grades 9-10 in the mid-1990s.
On Monday, she will be among 11 elected officials, including Mont. Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Lt. Gov. John Boelinger, to take their oaths of office during the official inauguration ceremony in the Montana State Capitol rotunda in Helena.
This billboard supported Denise Juneau in the election for Montana superintendent of public instruction. A member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Juneau, who won the election last year, is the first American Indian woman elected to a statewide executive office in Montana and will be sworn in on Monday.
Politics are part of her family.
Her mother, Carol Juneau, D-Browning, is in her second year as a Montana state senator. She has also served two terms as a representative in the Montana Legislature. She was raised on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Carol Juneau's father and Denise Juneau's grandfather, the late Martin Cross Sr. of Elbowoods and later Parshall, was chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes on Fort Berthold in the 1940s and 1950s.
Denise Juneau's father, Stanley Juneau, is a retired state and local educator and is a former councilman for the Blackfeet Tribe.
Denise Juneau has a bachelor's degree in English from Montana State University, a master of education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from the University of Montana.
Currently, Juneau has been Indian education director with the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
In a story published in the Great Falls Tribune, Juneau said she decided to run for superintendent of schools partly because the present superintendent of public instruction was term limited. She said she also felt it was necessary to address more of the issues facing public education. During the election she campaigned on the platform to bring back the conversation about the good of public instruction.