Interview: Senator Chairman Richard Marcellais

Dorreen Yellow Bird of The Grand Forks Herald interviews Richard Marcellais, the chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a senator for North Dakota.

"Q. Am I correct in saying you are the first person to hold office as both a state senator and a tribal chairman?

A. I am the first for the state of North Dakota and probably the nation.

Q. How does the tribal government function while you’re at the Legislature?

A. The vice chairman runs all the meetings. Anytime they have a resolution, they fax the resolution down to my hotel room, and I sign it and fax it back.

I e-mail a lot of the department heads, and they communicate with me by e-mail and also get ahold of me on the phone. In the evening, I call back to the office and check all my messages and return my calls then. I always say I work for the state from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to midnight, I’m working for the tribe. That gets to be a 16-hour day. When I come home on weekends, I’m working again.

I also conduct our open public meetings on weekends when I come home. We’ve had a couple of meetings. They’re scheduled for the weekend, so I can be there to conduct them. Those meetings are one of the responsibilities of the tribal chairman.

I’ll be glad when the 80-day session is over and I’ll just be tribal chairman."

Get the Story:
PRAIRIE VOICES: Senator chairman (The Grand Forks Herald 2/15)