Turtle Mountain leader recovering from major heart attack attends meeting from hospital bed

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure is trying to relearn basic skills like walking and typing while struggling with nerve damage.

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Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure sits at his desk on Oct. 22, 2021. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service
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BISMARCK — About two weeks after suffering a major heart attack, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure virtually led a meeting of the tribal council from his hospital bed on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Azure said in a Facebook post that he's recovering at Altru hospital in Grand Forks from the heart attack that nearly killed him, but "life-saving tactics" used by medical staff temporarily shut down his kidneys. He said he's still on dialysis four days a week and is trying to relearn basic skills like walking and typing while struggling with nerve damage.

The chairman said he "would have died on site" from the heart attack if not for Indian Health Service staff who cared for him until he was flown to Grand Forks. Azure was then in a medically induced coma for six days, and when he woke up, he felt pain that he would "wish on nobody."

During Azure's hospitalization, the Turtle Mountain community has rallied around its leader , with tribal members holding prayer services and posting supportive messages on social media. 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 said he's thankful for the friends and family who have visited him in the hospital, including his 92-year-old grandmother.

"I want everyone to know that (I've) seen the outpouring of support and YES, it all absolutely made a difference," Azure said on Facebook.

Azure was first elected as chairman in 2017 and won reelection in 2020. He sits on multiple boards of directors, including Bismarck's United Tribes Technical College and the Native American Rights Fund.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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