Like many of his predecessors, new Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Mike Faith is aiming to combat the issues of unemployment, housing and drug abuse on the reservation.
While these are long-standing issues for the people of Standing Rock, Faith said he thinks there has been a shift within the communities of people wanting to see a positive change.
“The elders, the grandmas saying enough is enough,” Faith said. “And the young people are hearing them and know (drugs) are not welcome.”
Like the rest of the state and nation, the people of Standing Rock are battling the crisis of opioid abuse. The tribe, along with a number of other tribes and cities in the state, recently received a grant — Standing Rock’s in the amount of $70,000 — to provide drug treatment and prevention.
Under his leadership, Faith said he hopes the tribal council will approve working agreements with other governmental agencies to continue to better care.
“Partnership is the only way to solve this,” he said.
But he is also calling on the people of Standing Rock to work for this change among themselves. In his first months in office, he has trips planned to each community to ask how the council can help the communities help themselves.
In addition to drug abuse, Faith said he plans to look for employment solutions. He said the tribe has the casino and a number of other business ventures through Standing Rock Industries. Faith said he wants to work toward even more ventures so those tribal members who receive a higher education have somewhere to work within their home communities.
Faith has 19 years of experience as an employee of the tribe, having worked for Standing Rock’s Game and Fish Department. He has also served a term as a councilman at large on the tribal council.
Faith said he chose to run for chairman because he feels he’s in touch with people and can make a difference.
“My heart is there for people,” he said.