An enduring legacy impacting others will live on
Raymond Cross had a long and distinguished career as an attorney and law professor, advocating for American Indian rights. He died Tuesday at his home in Tucson, Arizona.
An enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, Cross’s life took him from a youth growing up on the Fort Berthold Reservation to becoming an Indian attorney who won important victories in higher courts.
He was the subject of the book, “Coyote Warrior,” by Paul Van Develder, which chronicles the history of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people on the Fort Berthold Reservation, particularly around their fight against the Garrison Dam and Cross’s subsequent victory in securing fair monetary compensation from Congress for the illegal taking of tribal lands for that project.
That legal victory was but one chapter in a distinguished career that saw him win numerous cases, including arguing and winning two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Matthew L. M. Fletcher from the University of North Dakota School of Law said in a review of “Coyote Warrior” in the Great Plains Quarterly in 2006: “But it was Cross’s decision to return home to represent his own Nations that came to establish his enduring legacy.”
Cross transitioned from courtroom to classroom. He concluded his career as a law professor at the University of Montana before retiring several years ago.
Cross has done extensive work to interpret and preserve Native American heritage and culture, especially relating to the Fort Berthold Reservation but also other tribal nations. In 2018, the State Historical Society of North Dakota recognized him with the Heritage Profile Honor.
Both Raymond Cross and his work and achievements have had a major influence on many others, and we believe his legacy will live on through many generations.