“I want to address the one subject that gives our people great anxiety. It is the Keystone XL Pipeline” -- Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux giving this year's State of the Tribes Address the South Dakota Capitol Building in Pierre on January 10, 2019. Photo courtesy South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations

Native Sun News Today: Tribal leader addresses lawmakers in South Dakota

Bordeaux speaks at SD Legislature
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today Contributing Editor

PIERRE - Noting that his is the fourth State of the Tribes speech at a South Dakota Legislature annual session, Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux spoke for all nine Indian jurisdictions the state overlaps when he reminded the attending parliamentarians and the governor that the problem of racism hasn’t diminished in that time.

“Some of the challenges that have been facing Indian Country the last several years still plague us to this day. Racism is still present, and we read about the incidents in the newspaper and on social media,” Bordeaux said.

He offered the lawmakers a full course in the challenges of overcoming the problem. Respect for the U.S. Constitution’s recognition of treaty rights as the supreme law of the land headed the list, and opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline finished it.

“It is also important to remember that part of Art. 6 of the U.S. Constitution where is declares that … ‘all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land’,” he noted.

“So, if South Dakota wants better relations with tribal governments, South Dakota must honor and respect the treaties that were made with us,” he said.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting: State of the Tribes Address

Bordeaux lauded incoming Gov. Kristi Noem for “wanting to be the governor for the next generation,” adding, “One of the things that we tribal leaders are charged with is making decisions for the betterment of the next seven generations for our people. I guess that makes us Lakota big-picture people.”

Convoking a moment of silence for what he called “the rising rate of suicides in our communities,” he urged lawmakers to foster partnerships to boost mental health resources for rural and reservation populations. “This would assist future generations of South Dakotans,” he said.

While reservations have innovative initiatives, such as equine therapy, mentorship and some other counseling services, tribal calls for federal appropriations and grants for mental health services “have gone unanswered as they are not considered budget priorities for the Congress,” he stressed.

Bordeaux invited lawmakers to visit his reservation and suggested “a government-to-government meth and opioid summit” for interaction between tribal and state leaders, saying, “We routinely have drug dealers who are not from our reservations come onto the reservation. They are doing our people a great deal of harm.

“We have learned through experience that what happens in your communities affects our communities and vice versa.”

President Rodney Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe gave this year's State of the Tribes Address before the South Dakota Legislature.

Posted by South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations on Thursday, January 10, 2019
South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations on Facebook: State of the Tribes Address

He reminded listeners that the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty provided for Indian health care. “We do not believe that the federal government is living up to this responsibility,” he stated.

The Rosebud federal Indian Health Service hospital is funded at 1989 levels, he noted by way of example. “Due to this situation, our people are forced to go to other hospitals and face the prospect of financial ruin,” he said.

He admonished legislators to back Medicaid expansion, saying, “It will cover more people and bring jobs and other economic benefits to the state. It has the added benefit of being the right thing to do.” Federal money would account for 90 percent of the expansion, he noted.

His tribal budget is 75-percent funded by federal sources, meaning that the 2019 national government shutdown due to the standoff between the U.S. Congress and Administration over the issue of building a wall on the Mexican border has “stark” consequences in Indian country, he pointed out.

It “underscores our need as tribal people to become self-sufficient and work to expand our economic activities,” he said. He called on South Dakota’s U.S. Congressional delegation, Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds, and Rep. Dusty Johnson “to do what it can to end this shutdown.”

Bordeaux invited legislators and the governor to “continue negotiations with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as well as the other tribes on a new tax compact,” which would establish revenue sharing of a levy recently required on purchases made over the internet.

The Rosebud Economic Development Corp., REDCO, a holding company with 14 business subsidiaries, is supported by an ever more robust legal system, assuring investors secure operating circumstances, Bordeaux said.

“Rosebud is open for business, and I can say this about the other eight reservations:” The key to impact on employment is the small, independent local business, he stipulated.

“REDCO has created approximately 50 new jobs over the last several years. These are well paying jobs with health insurance, retirement, and other benefits,” he said. We’ve created a food sovereignty initiative to help people eat healthier and begin growing their food. We are promoting self-reliance.”

Bordeaux said youth are more likely to be in school when parents have employment. Addressing education, he again cited his reservation as an example. “On average, 290 children start high school; 120 of them graduate in four years; 30 of them enroll in colleges and 20 percent graduate from college, which leaves us with six college graduates.

“We hope that partnerships with Teach for America, the South Dakota Board of Regents, and South Dakota Jumpstart and the American Indian College Fund continue to work together,” he said. “We feel this is especially important that local schools and organizations should align their goals and work with the goals of our tribal nations,” he added.

“Finally,” he said, “I want to address the one subject that gives our people great anxiety. It is the Keystone XL Pipeline and the prospect of all that the project would bring. There are a great many things that trouble us about this project."


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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