Hartford-Black Eagle-Obituary

Hartford Black Eagle


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - An elder from Montana's Crow Indian Tribe whose family ceremoniously adopted then-Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race has died.

Hartford "Sonny" Black Eagle Jr. died Monday at his home in Lodge Grass on the tribe's reservation in the southeastern part of the state, said his son, Crow tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle.

The 78-year-old traditional healer died in his sleep after battling respiratory problems stemming from a severe case of pneumonia several months ago, Cedric Black Eagle said.

Obama called Black Eagle's wife, Mary, on Wednesday to express his condolences, a White House official said.

Hartford Black Eagle and his family adopted Obama when the candidate visited the reservation in the weeks leading up to Montana's Democratic primary.

As part of the adoption, Obama attended a purification ceremony where he was prayed over by Black Eagle and received a Crow name that translates as " One Who Helps People Throughout the Land."

Cedric Black Eagle said his father considered the 2008 adoption ceremony one of the proudest moments in his life and subsequently considered it his duty to make sure Native American voices were heard.

"He felt like he was representing all of Indian Country as a spokesman, and always telling his (adopted) son, the president, that he has to make sure all of the people in Indian Country are heard and try to help them all," Cedric Black Eagle said.

Hartford Black Eagle and his wife later attended Obama's presidential inauguration and several Christmas dinners at the White House, said his son.

During destructive flooding on the reservation last year that left Lodge Grass largely isolated and forced many tribal members from their homes, Obama called Hartford and Mary Black Eagle to check on their safety, Cedric Black Eagle said.

Hartford Black Eagle was born during the Great Depression and grew up on his famil y's ranch outside Lodge Grass.

After his mother died of tuberculosis when he was a baby, Black Eagle was raised by his grandparents and later became a strong advocate for preserving the Crow's traditions and culture.

He taught the Crow language to his eight children, and instructed them and others in the community on performing traditional tribal dances, Cedric Black Eagle said.

To earn a living, he worked as a carpenter, an Indian Health Service representative and, most recently, as a political adviser to his son, who recently lost a bid for re-election.

His death came less than two weeks after the loss of another member of the family, 55-year-old daughter Marilyn Black Eagle, who died Nov. 16 in a two-vehicle accident.

Funeral services for Hartford Black Eagle are scheduled for Thursday in Crow Agency followed by internment at Lodge Grass Cemetery.

MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

I offer my condolences. Our creator promises to bring back the good ones.

May the God of comfort grant you peace as you reflect on the wonderful memories that you have of Mr. Black Eagle

May the Almighty Spirit grant you peace and hope during this time. May your family be reunited in a perfect world of happiness and health one day soon.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family at this difficult time. Mat the God who gives peace be with all of you.

Deepest sympathy to the Crow nation for losing such a remarkable leader and to his familia on losing a father..a husband.
May he rest in peace..shine like the sun..blow like the wind and still live in each and every ones heart/soul..whether they be Crow or not..R.I.P.

I feel a connection to Sonny Black Foot n the Blackfoot family. Rest in peace dear one.

I extend my sincere condolences in the loss of your beloved Mr. Black Eagle. What a wonderful, kind and caring man. May God comfort you today and in the days ahead.

May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.