State of the Tribes address: Food security, education, and voter equality among priorities

South Dakota Capitol building
South Dakota Capitol building(KOTA)
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 1:33 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Chairman of the Great Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Peter Lengkeek, delivered the State of the Tribes address Thursday.

Lengkeek spoke of what he saw as the most pertinent areas of concern and progress for the nine sovereign tribes of South Dakota. Among these were food security, education, timely and adequate emergency services, voter equality, and collaboration with non-tribal leaders.

Food security

Lengkeek spoke of how reservation communities are not unique in food insecurity.

“The needs in Indian County are shared by all South Dakotans,” Lengkeek said.

To combat this, he advocated for free and reduced meals to ensure children have enough to eat.

Education

“[Education] is a tool to foster unity, understanding, and mutual respect,” Lengkeek said.

Two of the top education-related needs highlighted by Lengkeek were mental health services for youth and recruiting more teachers.

On the topic of education, he urged greater representation of očhéthi šakówiŋ history in curriculum, as it is part of South Dakotans’ shared history and “should be utilized to help all South Dakota students to learn, love, and appreciate their home state well before reaching graduation.”

A part of this, Lengkeek said, involves relying on educators in the state rather than non-South Dakotans for determining curriculum.

Watch the live stream below.