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Turtle Mountain Welcomes New Leadership

Posted 12/04/12 (Tue)

Tribe Celebrates Inauguration Hundreds pack the Sprung for the 2012 TMBCI Tribal Inauguration By Dave DeCoteau Jr. TM Times News BELCOURT - “Working together for a better and brighter future. That was the slogan used this past Saturday at the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians 2012 Tribal Inauguration. And if the words by the newly elected tribal council representatives and chairman in their inaugural speeches is carried forward, the state of the Turtle Mountain Tribe is definitely going to prosper throughout the next two years. Over 600 tribal members attended Saturdays inauguration where newlyelected Tribal Chairman Richard McCloud gave a monumental speech for the ages. Chairman McCloud spoke about improving healthcare on the reservation by working closely with the Indian Health Service. He also touched on the housing crisis and how to improve that, too. Education is a big part of the chairmans life as he served 15 years on the Belcourt School Board. He said this council will support the local school systems as they continue to provide a good education for area youth. McCloud stressed the importance of not only the youth, but the elders as well. He believes the elders is what makes Turtle Mountain a better place, and molded generations after them to be able to be a successful and prosperous Native American tribe. What most tribal members feel is more important than a lot of these above initiatives is that they want a tribal council that will work together for the betterment of the tribe. Chairman McCloud said this administration is a team and will get things accomplished as a team for the people. What the people were looking for was hope, unity and strong leadership, McCloud said in the opening of his inaugural speech. As I stand here in front of you, Im going to bring you hope, unity and strong leadership... I promise you that. This chairman and this council is working hard already for the people. Chairman McCloud introduced his team following his inaugural speech as the large crowd stood and cheered nearly every statement each of the newly elected council representatives had to say. The common words were: together, hope, united and appreciative. Those four words rang loud and proud as the eight council representatives and Chairman McCloud stood high above the 600-plus tribal members as they gave their inaugural speeches. Atypical tribal inauguration usually features a swearing in ceremony where each elected representative and officer would take the oath of office. However, Chairman McCloud, along with elected tribal council representatives Jim Baker, Troy Big D DeCoteau, Patrick Marcellais, Cindy Malaterre, Elmer Davis Jr., Ed Falcon, Carson Belgarde and Zelma Peltier had already took the oath of office three days prior at a special swearing in ceremony at the Tribal Courthouse. That made for a quicker and more efficiently ran inauguration than several of the past inaugurations. Also taking the oath office at last Wednesdays special swearing ceremony were Associate Judge Andy Laverdure and District 1 Judicial Board Representative Shawn Marcellais. So all that were left to take the oath of office at Saturdays inauguration were Judicial Board Chairperson Nikki LaFloe, District 3 Judicial Board Representative Joni (Mayer) Tillich and District 4 Judicial Board Representative Lisa DeCoteau. Tribal Chief Judge Madonna Marcellais each of the newly elected representatives and officials at both Wednesdays special ceremony and at Saturdays inauguration. Executive Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, Mr. Scott Davis, was on hand and gave an instrumental speech to the crowd of people and to the new tribal council as well. Davis has been a strong voice for Indian Country throughout his four years from his office at the State Capital Building in Bismarck. Davis made a strong effort to invite the McCloud administration to work together with his office in the months to come, as well as giving statements to the council on behalf of North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Senator John Hoeven. Davis presented Chairman McCloud and the tribal council with a special gift from the governors office with hopes of a working partnership together from a mutual respect standpoint. Following the speeches and the swearing in ceremony, the new tribal council were given a special-made star quilt as a gift by the people to help them remember what the task at hand is over the next two years - thats working hard for the people. They all know that, but they also know its not an easy job by no means. Chairman McCloud and his team made a promise to the people at Saturdays inauguration, and that was to bring hope, unity and strong leadership back to the people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. District 1 Council Representative Troy DeCoteau said it best when he stated, the people want a council they can trust and they can come to without being scared... We need to work together for the people. The large crowd of people who attended the inauguration were able to meet and shake hands with the new tribal council following the speeches and swearing in ceremony, almost like the people were giving the council their trust and blessings to do whats right for the people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. It was definitely a nice gesture to show the council what theyre here to do as a team, for the people, working together for a better and brighter future. A huge meal was once again provided by the Sky Dancer Casino and Resort and their great staff. Several tribal employees and a group of seniors from the Turtle Mountain Community High School provided assistance with the meal and seating throughout the entire ceremony. Also, entertainment was provided by Ryan Fiddlin Lefty Keplin and John Keplin. Members of the Lilley-Dionne American Legion Post #262 led the inauguration as the color guard marched into the ceremony in uniform with an honor song performed by local drum group Northern Straight. Drum group Big Thunder was also on hand. And we cant forget about special M.C. (Master of Ceremonies) Carol Davis who provided her services and excellent public speaking abilities to the inauguration. Saturday was a celebration for the newly elected tribal government - but more importantly - it was hope for the people of Turtle Mountain. The people certainly felt that sense of pride walking out of the Turtle Mountain Bingo Palace last Saturday afternoon, a feeling a lot of folks havent felt in several years. We're going to be a great team, Chairman McCloud said in his closing address about the newly elected tribal council. I believe we can be great, and I know we will.