MHA Nation inaugurates new leadership
By Jerry W. Kram
A new day dawned on the Fort Berthold Reservation on Dec. 4. That evening, a celebration at the 4 Bears Events Center marked the inauguration of a new generation of leadership of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikira Nation.
Tribal Chairman Mark Fox, newly elected segment representatives Cory Spotted Bear and Frank Grady, and incumbent Parshall/Lucky Mound Representative Mervin Packineau took their places as leaders of the Three Affiliated Tribes for the next four years. The celebration was marked with dancing, drums, food and of course, speeches.
Packineau spoke of his father, who had served on the Tribal Business Council back in the 1970s. He said he was both proud and humbled to be elected for a fourth term on the council.
"Being on the council is a humbling experience," Packineau said.
Packineau said that he knows there are members of the community who don’t agree with everything the council does, and he thinks that’s good.
"We will always have a loyal opposition," he said. "What we have to remember is that someone who disagrees with you doesn’t hate you. We just have different ideas for what is best for the people of the Fort Berthold Reservation."
Packineau painted an optimistic picture of the future. He said the tribe is not just in good economic shape, but it is in a position to improve people’s lives through improved education and health care. He acknowledged that the oil industry that has brought a measure of prosperity to the MHA Nation was having an impact on the people and environment, and said it is the council’s duty to protect the land and people.
Grady spoke briefly, saying that tribal nations around the United States are looking to the MHA people for leadership. He said the council had a duty to the people to lead responsibly.