Legislature Re-Institutes Tribal Address After It Was Canceled During #NoDAPL Protests


A protestor pours gasoline on a fire blocking North Dakota Hwy. 1806 on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, north of Cannon Ball. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Back in 2016, amid the violent protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota state lawmakers opted to cancel the traditional address from a representative of the state’s tribes at their regular biennial session.

Each legislative session typically begins with a state of the state address from the governor, an address from the judiciary, and the tribal address. The 2017 session saw only the state of the state address from the governor happen, as it is required by law. Both the tribal and judiciary addresses were canceled with Legislative leaders citing security concerns.

Today I can report that the speeches from the tribes and the judiciary are back on the schedule for the upcoming 2019 session. And, unlike previous sessions, they’ll both happen on the same day, which comes as a relief to lawmakers and legislative observers alike.

“It was such a drag to have the state of the state, tribal and judiciary speeches all on separate days,” a friend, and former journalists, told me about the decision.

I’m also gratified to see this step toward normal relations being re-established between the state and tribal governments. The #NoDAPL protests were as intense as they were ugly, and engendered no small amount of understandable resentment. But that’s history now. Hopefully state and tribal leaders can continue to work back toward a more cordial sort of relationship.