Former Chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Eli Hunt was remembered Tuesday at a public funeral service held at the Northern Lights Events Center in Walker. Hunt died at age 60 on Wednesday in Duluth. He was most noted for being the Chairman from 1996 to 2002.
Elder, leader, server, and brother, Eli Owen Hunt wore many hats in his lifetime. But at his public funeral service, one attribute stood out as many say he was a kind and generous giver. During his time as Tribal Chairman, Hunt advocated for Native American rights at county, state, and federal levels. Hunt made great strides in the Leech Lake community and was instrumental in the building of Northern Lights Casino.
After he left office due to a recall in 2002, Hunt worked in public relations for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and hosted a Sunday morning radio show on KOJB. His previous career as a job developer also had Hunt open doors for others to succeed.
Hunt’s memorial was an Episcopalian-led service with inspirations from Native American traditions. The day to commemorate Hunt was full of songs, reflections and testimonies. And the large crowd that gathered to pay their respects shows just how many lives Hunt has touched.
Hunt was a devoted Episcopalian and will be buried in the St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery in Old Agency. Hunt’s family says he died from diabetes-related causes at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth.