United Tribes News Speech Archives

Testimony of David M. Gipp
President, United Tribes Technical College

Before the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee

Field Hearing on "Operation Dakota Peacekeeper"
Standing Rock Reservation

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chairman Dorgan and Vice-Chairman Murkowski:

Thank you for the opportunity to present brief testimony today in support of a continuation of provision of adequate law enforcement resources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As a citizen of the Tribe, and as President of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, of which Standing Rock is one of the managing tribes, I first want to thank Senator Dorgan for assisting in initiating the effort to improve law enforcement on the Standing Rock Reservation through Operation Dakota Peacekeeper.

My purpose in being here is to advocate for a longer range solution to the issues of providing law enforcement officers within the Tribal Nations in the Northern Tier of states in Indian country. Our Tribes need more than a new shift of 20 officers every 30 days as provided by Operation Dakota Peacekeeper. We truly need permanent resources to allow all the Tribal Nations in the Northern Tier of states to obtain a sufficient number qualified law enforcement officers to meet their needs, and we also need to be able to train those officers locally at Tribal colleges such as United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck and other nearby tribal colleges.

We have had some recent success in reaching agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs about law enforcement training opportunities that provide an alternative to the Artesia, New Mexico facility. In May, 2008, after seven years of negotiation, and at the direction of the Congress, UTTC was able to enter into an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as attached, between itself, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which sets forth a mechanism for cooperation regarding the possibility of training BIA and tribal law enforcement personnel at the Tribal colleges, and particularly at United Tribes. The MOU was executed by then Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Carl Artman, and we appreciate his efforts.

We are encouraged by this development, and have learned that the BIA may already be planning on acting on this MOU by placing a high level BIA official at UTTC in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, we do request your assistance, as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Indian Affairs to make sure the BIA follows through with the efforts outlined in the MOU. We believe local training is one critical component that will, with adequate resources, make Operation Dakota Peacekeeper a permanent success.

The purpose of the MOU is to establish a partnership between AIHEC, the BIA and UTTC to provide specialized training for law enforcement officials who serve on Indian reservations. The MOU assists the BIA in fulfilling its mandate under Executive Order 13270 regarding Tribal colleges and universities and promotes cooperation among the parties.

The Northern Tier is where some two-thirds of the Indian Law Enforcement Officers are located. The principal goals of the MOU are to address the needs of the Northern Tier of Indian Country:

All of the joint projects to accomplish the above goals contemplated by the MOU are not binding on the BIA. To get these projects going will require the support of the leadership of all of Great Plains tribes. Some of the specific activities contemplated by the MOU include:

The MOU is a good start, but the Tribal colleges also know that the support of tribal leadership in this effort is critical. Thank you for your consideration of this very important MOU. I look forward to working with you further on this issue in the coming weeks, and look forward to helping in any way possible to help make permanent the provision of officers under Operation Dakota Peacekeeper and to help make your recently introduced legislation, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2008, (S. 3320) a reality.