Leading the Change

 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been at the forefront of an eventful era in which our tribe has become a leader in the fight for Indigenous rights worldwide. Many small actions culminated in a globally significant event– the Oceti Sakowin camp– but we must now focus on addressing the future of our own tribe within the greater context of advancing Native Nations.

Large land-based, rural tribal nations are among the most marginalized communities in the United States, We feel not only the difficulties of broken treaties, but the seemingly forgotten nature of rural America. Our economy and our environment are interconnected, but other governments are not nurturing these things in a sustainable and efficient way.

Standing Rock has the opportunity to be a model community. This year, we received global attention for a spiritual and political movement that has forever altered our tribal political future. Standing Rock is now at the forefront of the global call for Indigenous rights, and while we must focus on our own community first, we must also acknowledge and embrace this new role. We have the opportunity to lead by example.

It is my goal for our tribe to begin to change our behavior at the core level to greater reflect the future that we want for our grandchildren. I will focus on moving away from reliance on fossil fuels, and exploring ways in which we can expand our existing investments in renewable energy. Everyone knows gaming is not a sustainable industry; we must explore additional economic development opportunities to diversify our tribal economy.

Only through economic diversification will we become self-sufficient enough to holistically address the many entangled difficulties facing our community today. We need to seriously address investments in education, healthcare, law enforcement, tribal infrastructure, and elder and youth services. Our leadership approach must always be conscious of striving to improve the overall quality of life on our reservation, and creating pathways to address the symptoms of poverty that require urgent attention.

I believe we have made significant progress in many areas during my tenure, and I would be honored to continue to work for the citizens of Standing Rock. We have a lot of momentum as a community right now and many outside supporters who are committed to helping the tribe advance. Let’s keep going.

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