SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Leaders from several Sioux tribes in South Dakota announced Thursday they will be holding their own event rather than participate in the annual State of the Tribes speech, which is scheduled to be delivered by Gov. Kristi Noem's secretary of tribal relations.
Representatives from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sent an invitation for the first "Great Sioux Tribal Nation" address on Jan. 16 in Ft. Pierre where chairmen and presidents from the tribes will each have a chance to speak and answer questions from the media. The event was organized in response to the plan to have a member of Noem's administration give the State of the Tribes address and is currently scheduled for the same time as the speech.
The State of the Tribes has been given in each of the last four years in January by a chairman or president of one of South Dakota's tribes to inform the Legislature on developments with the tribes and promote cooperation with the state. This year, it was announced that Dave Flute, the secretary of tribal relations, would give the address. Flute was previously chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and joined Noem's cabinet last year.
Tribal leaders were rankled by the change in precedent of having a current leader deliver the speech.
Remi Bald Eagle, intergovernmental affairs coordinator for the Cheyenne Sioux Tribe, said tribal leaders organized the event because they wanted people to hear "from the tribes themselves and not spun to any party rhetoric or interests outside the tribes."
After the issue arose at a legislative committee meeting in December, Kristin Wileman, a spokeswoman for the Republican governor, said the Legislature's Executive Board had requested that Flute give the address. She said he has a "broad perspective on the issues facing tribes across the state" and asked the tribal chairmen and presidents for input on the address.
Flute said in an emailed statement, "I respect the tribal leadership's desire to gather" and added that he would be meeting with tribes' elected leaders and the governor next week to discuss upcoming legislation.
So far, the Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Yankton and Oglala Sioux tribes are planning to participate, according to Bald Eagle. He said the event could be rescheduled to be immediately after the State of the Tribes to allow lawmakers to attend.