Longtime Blackfeet chair Earl Old Person ousted in elections

Great Falls, Montana (AP) 7-08

Longtime Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Earl Old Person was ousted in tribal elections.

Unofficial election results show Henry Butterfly received 1,860 votes to Old Person’s 999 in the Browning District to win a spot on the Tribal Business Council.

Butterfly said he won because voters wanted change.

Old Person, who has been the tribe’s chief since 1972, has served on the council for 50 years. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Butterfly said council members will choose a new tribal chairman from among the nine members of the council on July 12, the same day new members are sworn into office.

Two incumbents lost in the primary election and another incumbent council member, Edwin Little Plume, also lost June 24.

Blackfeet voters also passed a referendum to restructure the tribe’s constitution by adding executive, legislative, judicial, traditional and ethical branches to the government. The referendum passed 2,322-454.

The council will appoint a committee of five people to meet with tribal members over the next year to get input on how to change the constitution. Voters will be asked to approve it in a special election.

Voters also approved a referendum to ban alcohol sales on the reservation during North American Indian Days July 10-14 and the Heart Butte Society Celebration Aug. 7-10. A previous ban, which had been in place for seven years, was lifted last year.

Tribal voters also approved, by a 2,253-538 vote, a referendum to prohibit people who owe a debt to the tribe from sitting on a tribal council, board or commission.