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Old Elk remembered for commitment, sense of humor

CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) - Crow Tribal Secretary Andrew Old Elk was remembered Feb. 22 as a well-educated man who valued his culture and wanted prosperity for his tribe.

Old Elk, who devoted much of his career to natural resources and their development on the reservation, died Feb. 18 at a Billings hospital after a heart attack. He was 62.

''Hopefully we can continue his dreams and aspirations for the tribe,'' Tribal Chairman Carl Venne said to the estimated 800 people gathered.

Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger was among those in attendance, along with numerous dignitaries from federal and state agencies, and tribal governments.

Bohlinger called Old Elk a great leader who was well-known throughout the state. He said Old Elk's humor leaves a ''rich legacy.''

''We all need to live with a sense of hope, and that sense of hope is often found in a sense of humor,'' Bohlinger said.

Several speakers shared stories about Old Elk's humor and how it was his way of showing compassion and teaching people.

Many also spoke of the value he placed on education. Old Elk graduated from Haskell Institute in Kansas in 1963; he went on to earn two associate degrees, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree.

Old Elk's death leaves the tribe's secretary position vacant.

Out of respect, Venne said he waited to begin the election process to fill the position. Old Elk was elected Nov. 6, 2004, his term running through 2008.

The Crow Tribal Constitution requires that Venne declare the office vacant and begin a filing period for candidates. An election will be held within 60 days. If more than two candidates file, a primary election will be held, Venne said.

Old Elk is survived by his wife, a daughter and three sons. He was preceded in death by a son.