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Tribal Affairs

Blackfeet Nation says farewell to Chief Old Person

Chief Earl Old Person
Aaron Boltonn
/
Montana Public Radio
The Color Guard stands ready as pallbearers prepare to take away Chief Earl Old Person’s casket during his funeral in Browning, MT on October 22, 2021.

The Blackfeet Nation laid its late chief, Earl Old Person, to rest Friday during a funeral service in Browning.

Hundreds of Blackfeet tribal members showed up at the Browning High School gym to honor Old Person, who was both a longtime spiritual and political leader for the tribe. Some of Montana’s current and former elected leaders, including Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and current Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, also attended the service.

chief old person funeral wide ab.jpg
Aaron Bolton
/
Montana Public Radio
Hundreds of people gather for the funeral service of Chief Earl Old Person at the Browning High School in Browning, Montana, October 22, 2021.

Old Person’s friends and family reflected on his accomplishments as a leader. Old Person’s nephew Kenny Scabby Robe said love was always at the core of his message.

“You’re not going to see him no more, but remember the teachings that he taught you: how to love one another, how to take care of one another. The reservation that he lived on, he fought very hard in every way to keep our religion and our way of life alive,” he said.

Old Person’s family spoke about how they would carry on Old Person’s efforts, including his grandson Arlan Edwards, who closed out the funeral service.

“So I’m going to try my best, grandpa, to learn these songs and to teach them because that was important to you," he said. "And I'm gonna do my best to honor people the way you told us to."

chief old person horse procession ab.jpg
Aaron Bolton
/
Montana Public Radio
A group of horse riders leads the funeral procession for Chief Earl Old Person in Browning, Montana, on October 22, 2021.One riderless horse signifies Chief Earl Old Person’s last ride. Old Person had a deep love of horse culture and horse racing.

As Edwards sang his grandfather’s “going home song,” family carried Old Person’s casket away. Outside, hundreds of people lined Central Avenue as the procession moved through Browning, followed by a group of horses, one without a rider to signify Old Person’s last ride.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.