“Hello relatives, I greet you all with a good heart.”
With those words Rosebud Sioux President Rodney Bordeaux opened the fourth annual State of the Tribes address to the Legislature Thursday.
There are nine reservations within South Dakota’s borders.
Governor Kristi Noem attended the speech and nodded along to a Lakota song. The new governor sat with her new secretary of tribal relations, David Flute. He was tribal chairman for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate but lost re-election in November.
Elected leaders from several other tribes sat in chairs along the raised front of the House chamber as he spoke.
At one point Bordeaux asked for a moment of silence for the many suicides. He said the Rosebud reservation has one psychologist for 27,000 residents — the equivalent of eight for the entire city of Sioux Falls.
“What happens in our community affects your community,” Bordeaux said. He later added, “We need to engage with one another and talk about agreements where we can address meth in a criminal context.”
Bordeaux called for the Legislature to consider again the gains that could result from expanded eligibility for Medicaid. Many lawmakers opposed to it blocked expansion during the Daugaard administration.
“It has the added benefit of being the right thing to do,” Bordeaux said.
He invited legislative leaders and Governor Noem to visit the Rosebud reservation. He suggested tribal and state governments hold a summit on drug abuse in South Dakota.
He also spoke against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that would cross through South Dakota and pass near the Rosebud reservation.
“There are a great many things that trouble us about this project,” he said, specifically mentioning the degradation of natural resources and the potential for crimes against girls and women by men staying at construction camps.
Bordeaux also spoke against a recent state law that Keystone XL opponents see as blocking protests against the pipeline.
“We are not asking for a handout,” he said near the conclusion of the speech, “just an opportunity.”
Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Rodney Bordeaux delivered the State of the Tribes address Thursday to the South Dakota Legislature and Gov. Kristi Noem. pic.twitter.com/dau8q49NjA— Bob Mercer (@pierremercer) January 10, 2019