State of the Tribes Address: "We must address and correct the dynamics of our relationship."

State of the Tribes Address: "We must address and correct the dynamics of our relationship."
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:44 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The focus at the capital building in Pierre was on the state of the Tribe address provided by Peter Lengkeek of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. He says food insecurity and safety are top priorities.

“Once our children are adequately fed and feel safe. They need teachers and administrators who care for them and who will encourage them to accomplish their personal goals,” said Lengkeek.

Lengkeek says while some legislators debated over gender inequality in sports, or what he believes to be non-existent critical race theory in k through 12 schools, tribal members were dealing with daily tangible struggles.

“Dealing with voter suppression and advocating for voter equality so that our people’s votes and voices were heard,” said Lengkeek.

Some allege the state was slow to react to a December snowstorm that hit several tribes.

“Nine tribal members lost their lives and weather-related incidences from as young as 12 years old to elder,” said Lengkeek.

At South Dakota Urban Indian Health in Sioux Falls and Pierre, CEO Michaela Seiber sees many of the same issues addressed in the State of Tribes speech and more.

“Folks coming in every day who need just resources for housing, especially folks coming right out of prisons,” said Seiber.

Her legislative watch this year will be through the lens of the 2000 people who seek care at their locations. The amount has doubled in the last year.

“For us to provide care to our trans and non-binary and two-spirit relatives, as it has happened over the last few years and that’s a really big concern of ours that we’re watching,” said Seiber.

As the physical needs of Tribal members are voiced today, so is the need for better understanding.

“If we are able to collaborate and work in partnership successfully in the future, we must address and correct the dynamics of our relationship,” said Lengkeek. “It is our indigenous people, after all, who put the Dakota in South Dakota.”