In what has become an annual event in Bismarck, leaders from around the region have gathered once again for the Tribal Leaders Summit, a three-day event where tribal leaders share information about current issues in Indian Country. 

The theme this year is 'We Are All Related', an idea that is derived from Native American philosophy, where people are bound sacredly to the living universe around them. The theme and corresponding artwork are also featured on the poster for the United Tribes International Powwow this year as well. "In our thinking, the elements of nature form a world where all Nations of living beings are related," says artist Butch Thunder Hawk Jr. "It shows that ll people are related too. No matter what color we are, white, black, yellow, or red, we have the same Creator."

Artwork by Butch Thunder Hawk, Standing Rock Lakota/Dakota Nation

A number of leaders and North Dakota congressional members gathered Thursday morning for the opening ceremony. Among those in attendance were:

  • Phil Baird, Interim President, United Tribes Technical College
  • Tex 'Red Tipped Arrow' Hall, Chairman, three Affiliated Tribes, UTTC Board Chairman
  • Richard McCloud, Chairman, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, UTTC Board
  • Leander 'Russ' McDonald, Chairman, Spirit Lake Tribe, UTTC Board
  • Congressman Kevin Cramer, United States House of Representatives
  • Mike Seminary, Mayor, City of Bismarck
  • Scott J. Davis, Executive Director, North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission

Also represented, but not in attendance were:

  • John Hoeven, United States Senator
  • Heidi Heitkamp, United States Senator

Billy Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meter run, will be on hand to share his story and celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic feat.

Throughout the three-day summit, tribal leadership will hold discussion on the following topics:

  • Health Care
  • Public Safety
  • Energy
  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Indian Child Welfare Act
  • Housing
  • Environmental Issues

The summit is also considered the official kickoff of the United Tribes International Powwow, which is taking place September 4-7 this year.