BISMARCK – Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford have concluded their first round of meetings with leaders of the Native American tribes headquartered in North Dakota as the administration seeks a fresh start to improving dialogue and strengthening relations between state government and tribal nations.
Burgum and Sanford met with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II and tribal council members on Friday after separate meetings earlier in the week with leaders from the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation, the Spirit Lake Nation and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, including members from the Trenton, N.D., area.
In addition, the governor and his team met this week with the presidents of all five tribal colleges in North Dakota: Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town, Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates and United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.
The goal of the meetings was to understand each tribe’s individual issues and circumstances so that the state and tribes may move forward together toward greater mutual respect, harmony and prosperity, Burgum said.
Among the challenges and opportunities discussed were K-12 and higher education, behavioral health and addiction, economic development, health care, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure.
The meetings, including a tribal leadership luncheon Wednesday sponsored by the inauguration committee, were held in the spirit of establishing more direct communication between the tribes, governor’s office and state agencies.
“For our state to reach its fullest potential, we need leadership and collaboration from all sides, and these meetings provided valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities facing North Dakota’s tribal nations,” Burgum said. “We look forward to continuing to build these relationships through ongoing conversations and innovation toward new solutions.”