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PASSINGS / Carl Venne

Tribal chairman pushed healthcare

February 18, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Carl Venne, 62, chairman of the Crow Tribe, was found dead Sunday in his sister's home near Hardin, Mont., according to the Big Horn County sheriff's office. He apparently died of natural causes, the office said in a statement.

Venne, who became chairman of the 11,000-member Crow Tribe in 2002, was praised by President Obama as a leader who engaged in a "fervent quest for a better life for his people."

Venne greeted Obama last summer during a campaign stop in Montana. The Crow adopted Obama as a member of the Black Eagle family. Last month, Obama watched Venne lead Crow horsemen during the inaugural parade in Washington.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Venne was a progressive leader who "always pushed the envelope when fighting for better healthcare and economic prosperity" on the Crow reservation.

Venne was born in Helena, Mont., and raised by his grandmother at the Crow Reservation. He went into the Army in 1966 and earned his GED there. He served in Vietnam and worked as a police officer after his discharge.

Throughout his tribal chairmanship, he supported programs against the use of methamphetamine and encouraged a healthful way of life on the reservation. He was instrumental in the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee's selection of Crow Agency, Mont., as the place for a 2007 hearing on Indian healthcare.

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