Bushie served as the Chief of the Hollow Water First Nation, his home community, prior to his election as head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in 1997. In August 1997, Bushie was elected Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, serving until 2000. Bushie was one of the creators of devolution, which transferred child welfare services to First Nation and Métis authorities.
In 2007, Bushie was defeated in an election to become head of the Southern Chiefs Organization.
Rod Bushie died from lung cancer on June 14, 2013, at the age of 60.