Denver Leonard American Horse was born on July 24, 1957 in Pine Ridge to Albert American Horse, Sr. and Mary (Ribsman) American Horse.
Denver went to Pine Ridge Middle School and went on to Todd County Bishop Hare Home and then in 1976, enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged in 1979. After the military, Denver attended Oglala Lakota College where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. Then in July of 1985, his first and only child was born named MaryBeth Jeanette American Horse.
Denver’s career began in 1987 where his jobs consisted of: OST Police Officer, Nurse Assistant, and DSS Social Worker/Supervisor with the state of South Dakota, Lakota Bilingual Instruction for Batesland, Little Wound, St. Francis, and Red Cloud Schools. He also became a candidate twice for OST Presidency. He was currently employed as the Oglala Lakota County Veteran’s Service Officer until his unexpected demise in his home he loved of Calico on February 11, 2018.
Through his extensive and thorough research, Denver compiled information on his family tree and concluded that there were three branches of American Horses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. One was Iron Shell who changed his name to American Horse for reasons unknown. The next was (Mila Hanska) American Horse. The third was (Tasunke Wasicu) American Horse in which Denver is the direct descendant of. All three branches were unrelated.
Among his many talents, he was a bull rider in his younger years, an avid traditional dancer, and also told his stories through his art and paintings and was in the last stages of publishing his book in Lakota. His strong, fluent Lakota language was evidenced by his weekly columns in the Lakota Country Times. Denver was also a very proud Veteran and member of the American Legion Post #281.
Denver is survived by his daughter, Mary Beth American Horse of Denver; siblings, Albert American Horse, Jr. of Rochester, N.Y., Gerald American Horse of Porcupine, and Dale American Horse of Toawac, Colo.; hunka brother, Nason Backs of Oglala,; 27 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Denver was preceded in death by his parents, Albert, Sr. and Mary American Horse; sisters, Velvedene American Horse-Tobacco, Susan American Horse and Jeanette American Horse; grandparents, Alfred American Horse, Susie Black Whirlwind, Alfred Ribsman and Alice Red Feather; nephew, Manuel Tobacco, Sr.; grandsons, Nathaniel Ten Fingers-Tobacco and Dennis Tobacco; granddaughter, Samantha Tobacco; and great-grandson, Dennis Tobacco.
A one night wake service for Denver started on Monday, February 19, 2018 at the Wakpamni CAP Office near Pine Ridge. Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Febraury 20, 2018 at the Wakpamni CAP Office Near Pine Ridge, with The Reverend Harold Eagle Bull, Lay Reader Anthony Wounded Head officiating. Traditional Lakota services were held with Mr. Chris Eagle Hawk. Burial was at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis.