BISMARCK, N.D. (Jan. 30, 2018) – Gov. Doug Burgum today called for greater understanding of North Dakota's Native American tribes and highlighted opportunities for collaboration between state and tribal governments as he opened a first-of-its-kind conference on strengthening government-to-government partnerships and relationships.
More than 300 people are attending the historic two-day conference hosted by the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, including tribal leaders, elders and other members, dozens of leaders and staff from various state agencies, state legislators and federal partners.
Burgum expressed his gratitude to the tribal members attending and sharing their experiences, saying it’s important to understand the complex histories of North Dakota’s tribal nations in order to pave the way forward for future generations.
“We all have the ability to change our future, and the way we can change our future is with a growing understanding of each other, an understanding of our similarities as opposed to a focus on our differences,” Burgum said in his opening remarks. “And we have an opportunity here over two days to begin that understanding, and so I would challenge everybody here to do that.”
The governor thanked Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis and his team for organizing the conference and spoke of opportunities for collaboration on workforce development, economic development, education, taxes, tourism, law enforcement and health care, among other areas.
“We have the people in this room to allow us to have the very best tribal relations in the country,” Burgum said. “And when we do that, we can have an influence on the federal government to pave a way that’s better for everybody in this room.”
Topics being discussed during the conference include treaties, federal partnerships, urban Native American issues, workforce development, child welfare, law enforcement, tribal consultation, energy, historic preservation, sovereignty and governance.
“We’re pleased that so many tribal leaders and officials from state, federal and tribal agencies have taken advantage of this historic opportunity to come together on important issues affecting every North Dakotan,” Davis said. “We’ve come a long way in the past year, and conferences such as this create a better understanding and a path forward for relationships, workable solutions and partnerships built on understanding, empathy and mutual respect.”
Since taking office in December 2016, Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford have made more than a dozen visits to reservations and met with the leaders of all four nations headquartered in North Dakota: the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes); the Spirit Lake Tribe; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, as well as meeting with leaders from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Burgum also chairs the interim Tribal Taxation Issues Committee, with Sanford serving as a member as well.
The conference continues Wednesday at the Ramada hotel in Bismarck, with Sanford among those giving opening remarks.
For more information about the conference, visit the Commission’s website at http://indianaffairs.nd.gov/.