Denise Bellecourt is the first born child of Vernon and Carol Ann (Holmgren) Bellecourt in Saint Paul Minnesota in July of 1960. Vernon and Carol Ann were the owners and operators of two beauty salons in St. Paul. When Denise was four years old the Bellecourt family, including brothers Marcus and Bret, moved to Denver, Colorado. Denise was raised in Denver until she was 15 years old, when she move d back home with her dad Vernon to the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota where her dad is from.
Denise’s dad, Vernon Bellecourt became a major leader in the American Indian Movement in 1968, which caused the breakup of her parents marriage in 1970. Denise became a major helper in her Dad’s home with many responsibilities at a young age. Denise was in charge of helping to raise her brothers and sister. Denise also was totally in charge of keeping her Dad’s children and home when he was gone on his work for AIM. Denise also has two younger siblings, Raven and Blackwolf, from her Dad’s second family with her stepmother Lyna Hart. Denise was brought up in the American Indian Movement from age 10. Denise is an AIM baby who is now a mother of two grown children and two grandsons.
Denise’s son John Clark, was born in 1979. Denise’s son’s father was killed in a tragic car accident in 1979 two months after her son was born. Denise started attending Bemidji State University in 1980 as a single parent. While in college Denise had another child, Adrianne Levy, who was born in 1980. Denise graduated from Bemidji State University in 1986 with a double major in Criminal Justice and Indian Studies. After a brief one year stint at University of North Dakota Law School, Denise quit law school to be home with her young children and work full time.
Denise worked for the White Earth Reservation in many capacities from Receptionist to Adoption Social Worker for nearly 25 years. Denise also worked for Anishinabe Legal Service as a Paralegal after she left employment with the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council. Denise also did a lot of volunteer work her community over the years including Chairwoman of the Local Indian Education Committee where her children and now grandchildren go to school. Denise was instrumental in the coordination of many cultural events and pow-wows in the local school district, at Headstart where she worked as a Multi-Cultural Coordinator with 3 and 4 year olds, and at the Reservation Tribal College where she worked as a Grant Writer for the submission of a grant for a tribal college language program. Denise also was on the White Earth Land Recovery Project Board of Directors where she served in numerous capacities including Chairwoman of the board. Denise also served on the Curriculum Advisory Committee and was the President of the local Parent Teacher Student Organization for the Ogema, White Earth, Waubun School District when her children were attending school there. Denise was the Chairwoman/Coordinator for the White Earth Reservation Annual June Celebration in 2000 and 2001, and was presented an award from the Tribal Council for best celebration ever.
Denise resides on the White Earth Indian Reservation with her husband, Michael Levy. Currently Denise is working on an autobiography of her life, tentatively titled American Indian Movement Daughter regarding her life as a child of AIM leader Vernon Bellecourt. Denise is also working on culturally appropriate books for children.