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Black Eagle elected Crow chairman

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CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) – Voters elected Cedric Black Eagle chairman of the Crow Tribe, choosing him over Leroy Not Afraid 2,521 – 850.

Black Eagle ran for the tribe’s top job against nine others. He also was the top vote-getter in the March 28 primary election, winning 2,169 votes to 389 votes for Not Afraid, who finished second.

Black Eagle became interim chairman in February following the death of Chairman Carl Venne.

He has promised to continue work on two of Venne’s goals: Seeking congressional approval of the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act, and seeing the start of construction on a coal-to-liquids plant. The plant would bring hundreds of jobs to the reservation.

Black Eagle supporter Jackie Old Coyote, 44, of Dunmore, called the April 18 vote the “most critical one in my lifetime.”

Venne’s administration made strides in helping the Crow Tribe progress, Old Coyote said, and in raising the tribe’s profile in the state and nationally as it focuses on economic development.

“I would hate to see this team disrupted,” Old Coyote said.

Leila Crazy Mule, 30, of Lodge Grass, who said she comes from a traditional family that puts great value on the land and water, voted for Not Afraid.

Crazy Mule said she agreed with Not Afraid’s stance on bringing back tribal council meetings, on boosting the number of college scholarships for tribal members, and on building a dorm at Little Big Horn College.

Black Eagle said his first task as chairman will be to appoint administrators.

He mentioned a project that will produce materials to build homes for 1,900 people in need of permanent dwellings. Jobs are another priority, Black Eagle said.

“Stimulus funding will help put a lot of people to work – for the next couple of years, anyway,” he said.

Black Eagle said he would like to sit down with those who opposed him in the election to address their concerns on issues facing the tribe.

Not Afraid later congratulated Black Eagle on his victory.

“The Crow Nation now needs to unite for our new chairman,” Not Afraid said. “He is my clan son, and my prayers and my hopes and my dreams are with him.”

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