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Former Sisseton Wahpeton chairman joins marijuana company

Robert Shepherd, the vice chairman of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association was among 12 tribal leaders who met with President Barack Obama in advance of the White House Tribal Nations Conference in December 2014. Photo from Facebook

Robert Shepherd, the former chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota, has joined a company that describes itself as being in "cannabis management."

Shepherd is the Tribal Relations Officer for Monarch America. The company will be attending the first-ever Tribal Marijuana Conference tomorrow.

"Tribal nation leaders from all over the country are rapidly becoming aware of all the political, social, economic, and operational issues surrounding the potential legalization of commercial marijuana businesses on Native American land," Shepherd said in a press release. "Participating at this first ever Tribal Marijuana Conference will allow us to meet face-to-face with many groups that are preparing to enter the sector for the first time and to demonstrate Monarch America's dedication to building strong mutually beneficial partnerships within the industry."

Shepherd is the vice chair of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association and a former secretary of the National Congress of American Indians. He appears to be the first prominent Indian leader to enter an industry that is just getting off the ground.

"We have already been in very productive discussions with several Native American tribes from across the country with regard to applying Monarch's marijuana business expertise to their new potential projects," Eric Hagen, the CEO of Monarch America, said in the press release. "With the essential support of Former Chairman Shepherd as our Tribal Relations Officer, I am extremely optimistic that our marijuana business consulting team will become a leading partner to many of these Native American community development and empowerment projects in the near future."

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But new Department of Justice policy could open the door to tribes that want to legalize the drug.

Get the Story:
Indian Country looks to marijuana as new moneymaker (McClatchy Washington 2/26)

An Opinion:
Klint Cowan: Gavel to Gavel: Marijuana and tribes (The Oklahoma Journal Record 2/25)

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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