BISMARCK — Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure was hospitalized last week due to a heart attack, the tribal nation posted on its Facebook page.

Azure was still hospitalized and fully sedated as of Monday, Nov. 15, according to a post from a family member.

"Chairman Azure has always been a shining beacon for the Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and it is his light that we all hope and pray for now," the tribe said in a statement. "Stay strong Jamie, the Nation you have successfully (led) all these years are behind you, now, sending our strongest thoughts and prayers to you, and your family."

The Turtle Mountain community is showing support for its leader, and residents held a prayer service for Azure and his family on Sunday.

Vice Chairman Elmer Davis Jr. will assume the role of Turtle Mountain Chairman until further notice, the tribal government said in a press release. All official business, activities and projects will continue as planned, the release stated.

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Last week, the local newspaper, the Turtle Mountain Times, dedicated its entire front page to Azure with multiple photos of him and a headline reading "Prayers for Chairman Azure."

Azure was first elected the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa chairman in 2017 and was reelected in 2020. He sits on multiple boards of directors, including the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck and the Native American Rights Fund.

Azure started his own construction business, according to the Native American Rights Fund, and lives in Belcourt along with his wife and two daughters.

"Please keep the prayers coming, they are powerful and he needs all of them," a family member said on Facebook.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.