South Dakota State Senator Neal Tapio is seeking the Republican nomination for the state's congressional seat. Photo: Neal Tapio

'We need to renegotiate the treaties': Republican candidate calls for different era in tribal relations

A Republican candidate for South Dakota's sole Congressional seat wants the federal government to take another look at its relationship with tribal nations.

Neal Tapio, who is a state lawmaker, told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader that the current system of reservations and trust land isn't working out.

"We need to address the system, not just the symptoms. We need to renegotiate the treaties that are holding down a once very proud people," Tapio told the paper.

Tapio's stance is not terribly surprising. In January, he was one of the seven lawmakers who voted against a South Dakota Senate resolution that affirms the legitimacy of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which marked its 150th anniversary this year.

“Tribal leadership is corrupt," Tapio added in a post on his campaign site in which he described his views as a "bombshell."

He added: "The majority of people living on Indian reservations are victims of incest and molestation that are destroying a second and third generation of people living on Indian reservations, leading to suicide, violence and self-destructive patterns of addiction and hopelessness."

Tapio is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat. According a new Argus Leader / KELO-TV poll, he's running third behind Dusty Johnson, the chief of staff to the state governor, and Shantel Krebs, the current Secretary of State.

The seat is open because Kristi Noem, the incumbent, is running for governor of South Dakota. She has focused on reforming Indian health care during her time in Congress and has regularly traveled to reservations in the state and visited with tribal leaders.

The Republican primary is June 5. The candidate who gets the most votes will advance to the general election on November 6.

The Democratic primary also takes place June 5. Timothy Bjorkman, a former state judge, is the only candidate, according to Ballotpedia.

Read More on the Story:
U.S. House candidate from South Dakota calls for ending Indian reservations (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader May 31, 2018)

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