The State of the Tribes address, which typically follows the Governor's State of the State address, did not take place last year because of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. This year, the event isn't being held because the legislature is not in session.
Gov. Doug Burgum's, R- N.D., speech yesterday listed improving relationships with the tribes as one of his top priorities.
On Tuesday at Minot State University, Burgum expressed how he planned to strengthen tribal relations. Some of his plans of action are taking place as early as next week.
“Yes we're separate nations, but we're all North Dakotans, we're all parents, we've all got kids, we all want the same thing,” said Burgum at the State of the State address.
Burgum wants to work closely with all the Tribal Nations in North Dakota to resolve issues in their communities. Burgum and the legislature created the first ever tribal taxation committee.
“We've got the leaders from both parties: a tax commissioner, lieutenant governor, myself, Scott Davis from Indian affairs. It's a historic group of leaders,” said Burgum.
Davis, the Executive Director of the State Indian Affairs Commission, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member, says he's already seeing progress.
“There's a big opportunity for the tribes to participate, to engage. There's been numerous meetings held face to face, visits, and they're going to continue under his administration,” said Davis.
Davis says he's lining out the priorities for each tribe. And scripting memorandums of understanding, a contract without legally enforceable promises.
“They're being formulated, and hopefully signed off, in a month or two. In particular, law enforcement is a big one we're working on. The other one is our missing, our relative, Olivia Lone Bear. We've been working very hard with the tribe and the state of federal partners on finding her,” said Davis.
Burgum also says that educating our people on the history of Native Americans in North Dakota is a key for unity in the Peace Garden State.
On Jan. 30 and 31, there will be a conference at the Ramada Inn in Bismarck designed to strengthen government to government relations, and 180 people have already signed up to attend.
If you would like to register you can go indianaffairs.nd.gov.