State of the Tribes Address calls for unity

PIERRE, S.D. ( — There was an emotional moment in Thursday’s State of the Tribes Address at the State Legislature, especially with House Speaker Mark Mickelson sitting nearby.

His voice breaking, Lower Brule Chairman Boyd Gourneau recalled when he heard on the radio about the death of then-Governor George Mickelson, the Speaker’s father, in a plane crash back in 1993. 

Gourneau gave great credit to the late governor for reaching out to the eight tribes in South Dakota and how the state has been building on that success ever since.

Gourneau talked about the challenges in Indian country, including the Meth epidemic and healthcare, but also of the many success stories, including his own tribe’s popcorn business.

There was a funny moment in the speech, when Gourneau asked Lt. Governor Matt Michaels for a sip of his bottled water. The Chairman joked it was good state-tribal relations and not to worry because he had just had his flu shot. 

He ended the speech with a call for unity.

The third annual address opened with traditional Lakota prayers and songs.