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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Yankton Sioux Chair Delivers State Of Tribes

Melissa Hamersma Sievers
Yankton Sioux Chairman Robert Flying Hawk delivers the 2017 State of the Tribes address.

The Yankton Sioux Tribal chairman says understanding the misunderstanding between native and non-native cultures is a first step in closing the gap between the two. Robert Flying Hawk addressed the South Dakota legislature Thursday during the second State of the Tribes address.

Flying Hawk calls for unity between state government and the tribes. He says teaching more Native American history will help bridge the cultural divide.

Flying Hawk says many of the reservations are challenged by methamphetamine addictions but more increasingly heroin. He says he wants South Dakotans to reflect on what makes us different and to recognize those differences.

"They're there, but they're not visible at times," Flying Hawk says. "So, just trying to share with the thoughts that I had that we as a native people and the mainstream can both benefit from understanding each other and the life that we live. And by understanding those we will become stronger as a nation."

Flying Hawk says many of the challenges between Indian Country and the rest of the state go unseen but are very real.

"As we get into jobs and to schools and into stores, just a mental idea about seeing color. And that's a basic challenge that we can overcome," he says. 

Flying Hawk also called for help with native healthcare and proposals that help spur local economies on the reservations.

To hear Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk's full State of the Tribes address, click play below.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.