Conference addresses tribal relations in wake of DAPL protests

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Efforts to repair state-tribal relations have been ongoing since the end of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Today the two groups came together again at a conference to improve government to government interactions.

Members of both tribal leadership and the state acknowledge how complicated the relationship between the two is and that showed during the DAPL protests.

The Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations have caused strain between tribal governments and the state.

"It was a step back, but we learned from that and I recognize all of that that we as North Dakotans, tribal leaders, tribal citizens can do better, we need to do better," said Scott Davis, Director of Indian Affairs.

Since the end of the protests the two groups have worked on mending the fences.

"Take extra steps, take extra steps to communicate, extra steps to notice extra steps for communication, listening, extra steps for face to face," said Davis.

However, there are issues where everyone involved can find common ground. The cases of Savanna Greywind and Olivia Lone Bear have brought about a call to action.

"Having a coordinated response to cases of murdered and missing Native American people is absolutely critical," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

If the conference is any indication, things are moving in the right direction.

"It's all positive working in partnerships. Mending those fences and going forward. It's all win., win, win for the state of North Dakota," said Les Thomas, chairman of the ND Native Tourism Alliance.

The state and the tribes hopes this leads to stronger relations.

One major topic today, how energy projects can be respectful of culturally significant sites which was one of the main issues that sparked the protests.