President Barack Obama listens as Hartford "Sonny" Black Eagle delivers remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Interior Department in Washington. (AP Photo)

President Obama’s Adoptive Crow Father, Sonny Black Eagle, Walks On

Adrian Jawort
11/28/12

Hartford “Sonny” Black Eagle, the adoptive Apsaalooke Nation (Crow) father of President Barack Obama, passed away in his sleep early Monday in his home on the Crow Reservation in Montana. He was 78.

Black Eagle was a traditional healer and spokesman for the Crow tribe, and his name, Alaxalusshixiassaah, means “Thundering Hoof.” In a 2008 ceremony prior to the first ever campaign visit and speech by a presidential candidate on an Indian reservation, it was Black Eagle who bestowed upon Obama the Crow name Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuxshish that translates as, “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.”

Since he was a respected elder of not only the Crow, but to all tribes, Black Eagle had been selected by the former and late Crow Chairman Carl Venne to administer the traditional adoption ceremony to then presidential candidate Obama. After prayers were offered to the four directions, Obama was smudged with cedar smoke with the aid of a bald eagle fan, and given his new name. Thus, Obama not only became an honorary member of the Apsaalooke Nation, but became a representative of Indian nations across the United States. Upon being adopted into the Whistling Water Clan of the tribe, Obama said, “I like my new name: Barack Black Eagle. That is a good name,” prior to giving his 2008 campaign speech addressed to Indian country.

Obama, whose mother, father, and grandmother—who all helped raised him—have all passed, took his adoption into the Crow Tribe seriously and kept in regular contact with his adoptive parents. Upon hearing the news of his death, Obama called his adoptive mother, Sonny’s wife of over 60 years, Mary Black Eagle. Crow Cultural Director Burton Pretty On Top, who will give the eulogy during the funeral on November 29, said Obama called to give his sincerest condolences and spoke to Mary for about half an hour. The Black Eagle’s visited Obama personally on two occasions in Washington, D.C. including during his 2009 inauguration. A formal recognition of Sonny Black Eagle’s passing is expected to be given by Obama during next week’s annual Tribal Nations Conference.

As a man of peace and role model for younger generations, Black Eagle was never boastful about having the President of the United States as his adopted son, as he was equally proud of all his many sons and daughters who looked up to him as a father and father figure. Black Eagle truly lived by his life philosophy of, “There is but one race: Humanity.”

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
God Bless Black Eagle, and his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
...and now Black Eagle is at peace. Let us hope that President Obama will give us peace also.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I am native & live in the states ,no disrespect to black eagle ,but Obama has been the WORST president EVER if you lived here you would understand how he is not only runing this country ,but a true lier !! & speaks only lies I have lived w/ his policies & wether or not he had native adoptive parents doesn't make him any less of a lier !

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Sadly, another one of the traditional elders has passed. Godspeed on your journey, Mr. Black Eagle. We will all miss his contributions to life, his Tribe, and all of humanity.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Please don't take this in a negative way but, it sticks in our craw when tribes adopt a high profile figure, actor, politician, etc. yet will only "allow' unrecognized people who not only attend, but support year in and year out, not only with money but prayer and liviing by the way we should. Is it too late for our relations to see that they have taken the same road as our conquerors?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
DEAR, anonymous, Please state your name when you say such things. We would all like to know who to avoid. You have no respect. That is SO sad. Mr. Black Eagle was a good man, and recognized another good man. Try fighting for your rights as an original citizen of this land, instead of being so critical. We need to work together to bring about change.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Why is there always one idiot in the bunch who can't respect the death of a great man and decides to take this opportunity to talk about Obama's politics... Take your stupidity somewhere else dumbass... this thread is not about politics...

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
President Obama will pardon Leonard as he sees the massive support for his release at the doors of the white house

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
RIP

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
RIP

yvonne van Eijden's picture
yvonne van Eijden
Submitted by yvonne van Eijden on
maybe one day we will be all the same and also beautiful different
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