The following is some quick insight about David Leon Archambault II.
- Born in Denver, Colorado
- Lakota Name: Tokala Ohitika – Warrior from the Kit Fox Society – Brave Fox
- Known as Little Dave, son of Joe Bucking Horse (The Ol’ Bull Legged One)
- Mother – Betty Archambault, Father – Dave Archambault Sr.
- Maternal Grandparents: Francine (Fanny) Brewer and Willard Yellow Wood Nelson
- Paternal Grandparents: Lillian Halsey and Leo Archambault
- Siblings: Billi Hornbeck, Jodi Gillette, Sunshine Carlow, Amber Powless, Rick Red Blanket, Charles Archambault, and Jim Archambault
- Hunka – Ethel and Birgil Kills Straight, Pine Ridge
- Wife of 19 years – Nicole Thunder Hawk
- Children – Jaimie and Jayce – Thaine, Antaya, Brook, Grant, Easton, Kayleigh, Nehemiah, George, Coral, Vance, Cypress, Sunset, Tse Tse bug, Will n Jake, Montel, Artie, Sakowin, Shilo, and all the other Thunska/Thunzan.
- In-laws – Michele Thunder Hawk, John Thunder Hawk Sr., Maxine Thunder Hawk, Jodi Thunder Hawk, Johnson Thunder Hawk, Dustin Thunder Hawk, Jeremy Thunder Hawk, and the entire extended Thunder Hawk Family.
A lot of the things I do today are things that I learned from my grandpa Willard and my father-in-law John Thunder Hawk. Both are no longer with us today.
From the time I can remember up to 6th grade, I lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation, going to school at Little Wound in Kyle, SD. I spent a lot of time at my grandpa’s house just outside of Pine Ridge between Red Cloud Mission School and Oglala. In Pine Ridge, with my grandpa, we use to hunt, fish, cut wood, work on his garden, and collect copper/aluminum/junk from the dumps. I used to sneak ride the Tobacco’s horses. I loved spending time with my grandpa because he was the best story teller ever.
When Big Dave moved us from Pine Ridge to Bismarck’s United Tribes, I had a hard time adjusting. Coming from the Rez and then getting fully immersed into Wachter Junior High was something I wasn’t ready for. One day, my buddy Harvey Good Left and I packed up and took off for Pine Ridge, on our own. We didn’t get very far; the highway patrol brought us back. I ended up going to Wahpeton Indian School grades 7 and 8. I am glad I got to experience boarding school life. It helps me relate somewhat to the stories shared about boarding school.
All four of my high school years were at the Standing Rock Grant School. My first year at Standing Rock, I lived with my aunt Margret Teachout. The following year, Joe Bucking Horse moved to Fort Yates after he became the President of Standing Rock Community College (now Sitting Bull College). My dad had a lot of influence over my life’s choices. Once I graduated from Standing Rock, I attended Bismarck State College. After bombing out at BSC my second year, I came home. I drove school bus for Levi and Wyman while I attended school at SRCC or SBC. I asked Big Dave what I should go into and I remember him telling me our Reservation needs more business minded people. I studied business. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from NDSU and a Master’s degree in Management from the University of Mary.
As a bus driver, I learned a valuable lesson from Tommy Dog Skin. Tommy was the father of one of my good friends, Teddy Dog Skin. As far as I can remember, we were told to respect your elders, so I always respected my elders. It was Tommy that helped me realize the true meaning of “respect”. I had nothing but the utmost respect for Tommy. Usually about an hour before we drove, all the bus drivers would gather at the bus garage and tell stories. There was Bobby Gates, Tommy Dog Skin, Bob Herman, Waldo Zahn, Wyman Archambault, Mike Archambault, Bobby Grant, Bob End of Horn, Levi Keener, Waylon American Horse, and myself. If we weren’t telling stories we were eating bologna on sweet rolls. Everyone had their chair and place in the bus garage; Tommy was right by the door. He would be sitting there either scratching his elbows with a wire brush or sleeping. But no matter what, every time I came into the bus garage, Tommy would stand up and shake my hand. No matter who came in, Tommy was the first to greet them. Every time I saw him, he made me feel good. Everywhere Tommy went, people smiled. Because of his age, he had everyone’s respect but he knew how to give respect, in return he was the most respected man I knew.
Another good friend of mine was John Thunder Hawk, my father-in-law. John reminded me of my grandpa Willard. Ever since I’ve known John, he put in a garden. Every year, we had fresh vegetables – cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, corn, potatoes, squash, and onions. He planted his garden right behind our house so he could call us in the middle of the night and order us to shut off the water. It seemed like he always had a chore for someone and now that I think about it, he was sharing lessons for us all. In the late summers and fall, we would have the best soup ever. He would also go around and deliver his vegetables to the ol’ timers.
Before propane heated our homes we used wood. John was a wood vendor for the Tribe. He would provide 10 loads of wood for each house and he would have at least 30 contracts. John also hunted and fished. He would never take any more than he needed and would always give the ol’ timers some meat. John also liked to ranch. He raised cattle and horses. I don’t think he ranched to make a living but to teach life lessons – farming, watering and feeding the livestock, and fencing all provided work and lessons for all of us. Like my grandpa, John was a good story teller.
For you to know me, I wanted to tell you about some of the other people that shaped me. I just talked about the most influential but there are others. Today, along with my wife Nicole we own a convenience store – The Pit Stop in Cannonball. At the time we were trying to buy the store – the Tribe was co-signing JTAC loans. The Tribe also set aside $500,000 for economic development. Instead of getting a co-signed loan to buy the Pit Stop, I helped develop the Business Equity Loan Fund – which is a way for our Tribe to help our members get into business on or near our reservation.
Along with my in-laws we still grow fresh vegetables, hunt, fish, and raise horses. As a young father, I want my children to experience reservation life. It’s hard because more and more we are losing our identity. If we don’t pass on some of the good ways that were shared with us, our children’s children will not know who or what they are. Through my eyes – I see the youth as the most important. I want to create an environment for them so they can experience the most meaningful life lessons. Or at least try!
I am running for Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to act on behalf of my fellow Tribal Members to bring hope for change. I know it will be difficult to create change but I am hoping that if given the opportunity, I could move our Tribe in a new direction. There are numerous issues that need to be addressed but the only way they will no longer be issues is if we look at them from the future. Some of the obvious concerns I have are with: Youth, Economic Development, Education, Law Enforcement, Language, Health, and Independence. I will work at turning us toward a new direction.