RAPID CITY — Elizabeth Grace Prue-Shortbull, 92, made her journey to the Spirit World on March 30, 2016 at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D.
Elizabeth Grace Prue was born on September 1, 1923, in Rosebud to Henry Prue and Louise Desersa Prue. Her grandparents were Joseph Prue and his wife, Sally McDonald, and Michel Desersa and his wife, Josephine Rogers. Elizabeth grew up in St. Francis and graduated from St. Francis Indian School in 1941.
After high school, she attended a trade school at Haskell Indian School to obtain the skills to become a secretary. Being sent to a trade school was part of the early history of Indian people in this country as the mentality was that Indian people were not smart enough to be professional people This early history of Indian people resulted in the establishment of a number of trade schools where young Indian men were taught the trades of carpenter, blacksmith, shoemaker, and etc., and young Indian women were taught to be seamstresses, cooks, domestic workers, etc. The most famous of these trade schools was Carlisle Indian School where the great athlete Jim Thorpe excelled in football and track. Although she was at the top of her class scholastically, she was never encouraged to go college, but was rather sent to the Haskell trade school. The practice of sending young Indian people to trade schools continued into the 1960-70s when finally young Indians were encouraged to go to college.
From 1942-43, she worked as a secretary for the Panama Canal Zone Department in Washington, D.C. and delivered mail at the White House. In 1944, she enlisted in the Navy, and served for two years during World War II. She did her basic training at Hunter’s College in New York City. After her basic training, she was stationed in Seattle, Wash. She was very proud of her military service.
Her Indian name was Mni Owanca Wicahpi Win (Ocean Star Woman), and this name was given to her in recognition of her US Navy service. She gave her Indian name to her granddaughter, Vanessa Shortbull when Vanessa went through a name giving ceremony in 1985.
In 1946, she married Norman Shortbull, and they would have 10 children. From 1946-48, she worked at the Black Hill Army Depot in Igloo as a secretary. From 1948-50, she worked as secretary for the Denver BIA Relocation Office. The Relocation Program within the Bureau of Indian Affairs was charged with recruiting Indian people on Indian reservations to relocate to large American cities to be trained for employment and become employed in the large urban areas. Her husband Norman had moved the family to Denver to go to art schools in fine and commercial art. However, when he received a call that his uncle Tom Short Bull was ill, he came home to Wanblee with his family, and the family lived in Wanblee from 1951-54, and Belvidere from 1954-56.
In 1956, her family moved to Igloo and she was employed as a secretary in the Procurement Department for the Black Hills Army Depot until 1965. In 1965, the Army Depot was scheduled for closure and employees had to find other federal civilian employment. From 1965-71, she was employed at Ellsworth Air Force Base as a Procurement Assistant. From 1971-73, she worked at Sioux San Indian Hospital as the Property and Supply Director. From 1973-76, she worked for the Rosebud BIA Social Service Office as a Social Worker. In 1976, she became a Procurement Officer with the Aberdeen IHS Area Office. In 1981, she retired from federal service as an IHS Aberdeen Area Contract Specialist. She was a GS- 11 when she retired.
She was preceded in death by her parents; the late Norman Shortbull, Gordy Millis and Vern Larson; a daughter, Marilyn; and sons Norman, Jr. and David; her brothers Leon, Art, Theodore (a great basketball player who played for St. Francis High School when they won second place in the 1939 National Catholic Tournament that included both high schools and Catholic colleges), Joe, and Walter; and sisters Ellen and Emelia. Survivors include her brother, Kenny; sons, Thomas of Rapid City and Tim of Sioux Falls; daughters, Linda of Mission; Norma and Lisa of Aberdeen; Marietta of Ft. Washakie, Wyo., and Vonnie of Phoenix, AZ; along with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Visitation was held on April 3 at Serenity Springs Funeral Chapel in Rapid City and a visitation and rosary service was held at the Holmes Funeral Home in Valentine, Neb. Services were be held at St. Charles Catholic Church in St. Francis. Burial was held at St. Charles Catholic Cemetery in St. Francis.
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