North Dakota’s governor Doug Burgum has been traveling around the state meeting with members of the tribal nations who share the high plains. Burgum has been listening and learning about priorities of those he meets.

North Dakota’s governor Doug Burgum has been traveling around the state meeting with members of the tribal nations who share the high plains. Burgum has been listening and learning about priorities of those he meets.

On Friday, Aug. 25 he spent most of the day with leaders and elders of the Spirit Lake Nation.
A communication from his office says the intent is “to continue tribal engagement.”
Friday’s meetings began at 9 a.m. with a private meeting between the governor and the Spirit Lake Tribal Council in the council’s executive room of the Spirit Lake Casino.

Chairwoman Myra Pearson welcomed the governor as they discussed with him topics of concern to the tribe, including jurisdiction of the lake, a juvenile center, law enforcement and opposition to a proposed hog farm west of the city of Devils Lake but near the shore of the lake, itself.

Then a larger meet and greet event was held in the Carl Walking Eagle room that included a number of invited guests from around the Lake Region and Devils Lake. Here the governor and his staff heard reports from a number of the Spirit Lake Tribal Programs, Tribal Courts, Tribal Social Services, BIA Social Services, Law Enforcement, Tribal Planning, schools and colleges on the reservation, the EPA, Emergency Management, Tribal Realty, Tribal Roads and the Tax Department.

The daylong meetings concluded with tours of the Sioux Manufacturing Corp. plant and the Spirit Lake Nation’s new Head Start facility.

Burgum said that he’d enjoyed his visit to Spirit Lake and had learned a great deal.
“That’s why I’m here,” he told the Devils Lake Journal.

“I want to know what is important to the people of Spirit Lake,” he said.
At this visit the governor was doing more listening and less talking, although the opportunity allowed him private moments and conversations with several individuals throughout the day including Tribal Council member Doug Yankton, Northeast District Court Judge Donovan Foughty and several others.

In a press release sent out later Friday afternoon, the governor is quoted as saying, “We have an opportunity to listen, learn and engage with tribal leaders on a range of issues that are unique to their economy, geography and culture,” Burgum said. “We look forward to continued engagement to build relationships and move toward increased collaboration based on mutual respect and understanding.”

Burgum has been meeting with tribal leaders in advance of the first meeting of the new interim Tribal Taxation Issues Committee, set for Aug. 31 in Bismarck. The committee is chaired by Burgum and includes state legislative leaders from both parties, as well as Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis, Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford. It’s the first time an interim committee on tribal relations has included both legislative leadership and the governor.