WASHINGTON, N.D. - Controversy continues to surround a run-in between a group of students and Native Americans over the weekend in Washington, D.C. While initial reports indicated the students were being threatening and disrespectful, more video emerged that provides more context to the situation.
We talked to North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis, who says he’s disappointed in the situation. But he says it's a Washington, D.C. narrative, and says we've come full circle in our relationships in North Dakota, citing positive events like the tribal flags ceremony last week as an example of where we're at in the state. When we asked if he thought the students were disrespectful, he says it's hard to say because he wasn't there and it's difficult to make a decision without witnessing it firsthand.
“Was the whole thing, the whole issue disrespectful yea, I do believe that, both sides, there was disrespect on how you handle things, how you maybe at the heat of the moment or even the aftereffects of that, that's probably where it gets even more disrespectful,” Davis said.
Davis says he hopes that respect comes out of the incident, and says you don't need to agree with someone else's side, but you do need to respect them.
“Perhaps these two groups will come together and have a prayer ceremony or a forgiveness ceremony or something, something that's good you know and say hey I’m sorry,” Davis said. “You know forgiveness, some reconciliation, that's my hope that could come out of this.”
Davis says the after-effects, such as writing about it on social media, can add more fuel to the fire. He says it's something Native Americans in North Dakota have lived through during the pipeline protests, and says the question you should be asking is what can you learn from the situation, and what could you have done better?