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Dakota Midday: New Tribal Relations Secretary Steve Emery

South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations

Earlier this fall, Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Steve Emery as the new secretary of Tribal Relations. He comes to the job after serving as judge for the Crow Creek, Rosebud and Yankton tribes. He’s an enrolled member of Rosebud and served in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 1993.

In the appointment announcement, Governor Daugaard said that as a judge for several tribes, Steve Emery earned the trust of tribal leaders and members. The governor said he was excited that Emery agreed to join his administration to serve in this important role, to continue to build stronger relationships between state and tribal governments.

Emery replaces the department’s first secretary, J.R. La Plante, who resigned to take a position with the U.S. Attorney’s office. Emery joined Dakota Midday and discussed his first several weeks in the new position and plans for the upcoming months.

Karl was born to northeastern South Dakota crouton farmers, but was orphaned as a toddler during the Great Salad War (1966-67). Rescued by a flock of chickadees, he grew up in the woodlands of Sica Hollow. Legends of a bird boy living in the trees attracted the interest of renowned ornithologist and amateur bandoneon repairman Dr. Vogel Gehrke. With a handful of suet, Dr. Gehrke coaxed the timid boy down from the trees. He adopted him, named him Karl and taught him not to molt on the carpet. Dr. Gehrke’s book, The Bird Boy of Sica Hollow, was a best seller and Karl became a minor celebrity and teen idol. He appeared as a guest star on numerous television programs, most notably an awkward role on The Love Boat as the boyfriend of Captain Stubing’s daughter, Vicki. After critics panned his 1980 album, Bird Boy Does Disco, Karl retreated from public life and returned to Sica Hollow. Living in an isolated tree house, Karl achieved a reputation as a mystic. Pilgrims and seekers from around the world came to ask him about the meaning of life and for vinaigrette recipes. Growing tired of answering questions, he climbed down from his tree, shaved his massive white beard and took a job as the host of SDPB Radio’s Dakota Midday where he could ask the questions instead. After three years in that position, he ran out of questions and became host of Jazz Nightly instead. Karl makes his home in Vermillion with his charming wife Kari and three delightful children, Kodey, Kasey and Spatula. His hobbies include reciting the alphabet, combing his hair and doing volunteer work with delinquent songbirds.