HARDIN – Crow Tribal Chairman Carl Venne, who sought to improve the lives of residents on the Crow Indian Reservation, has died of natural causes. He was 62 years old.
The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying Venne was found dead at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday in his sister’s house. The statement said he apparently died in his sleep, and no foul play evident.
Under the tribal constitution, Crow Vice Chairman Cedric Black Eagle will served as interim chairman.
Venne, who greeted Barack Obama during one of his Montana campaign visits last year, was serving his second full term as chairman of the Crow Tribe. He took the office in 2002 after former chairman Clifford Birdinground resigned. Venne was elected to a full term in 2004 and re-elected last year.
Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana issued statements praising Venne as a man dedicated to his people. Baucus said Venne was a progressive leader who “always pushed the envelope when fighting for better health care and economic prosperity” on the Crow reservation.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Venne was one of the great leaders of the Crow Nation.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Chairman James Steele Jr. described Venne as a role model.
“He showed us all the way to lead our people into more prosperity,” Steele said. “His lessons won’t be forgotten.”
Venne was actively involved in the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council. He delivered the State of Indian Nations Address at the 2003 and 2007 sessions of the Montana Legislature.
Venne is survived by his wife and two children.
Funeral arrangements were pending at Bullis Mortuary in Hardin.
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