(SD)-Bear Runner Claims OST Presidency
PINE RIDGE, S.D. - Army veteran and Dakota Access pipeline protester Julian Bear Runner has been elected president of the Oglala Sioux tribe. Current tribal President Scott Weston did not seek a second term.
Unofficial results from Tuesday's election show that the 33-year-old Bear Runner received 2,233 votes or 59% to 1,527 for Dr Richard Zephier, a 73-year-old with decades of leadership experience but not in elected office.
Bear Runner, who will be the second-youngest president in OST history, served three years in the Army's 101st Airborne Division and has worked as a corrections officer, dispatcher for the ambulance service and compliance technician at the tribal clinical lab.
During his campaign, Bear Runner stressed his knowledge and connections to the tribe and the Pine Ridge Reservation as well as an intention to focus on tribal spirituality.
He wants to create a legal hemp and marijuana industry, make elected officials accessible to citizens, building more housing on the reservation - especially eco-friendly homes, and creating an agreement so the tribe receives revenue from Native events held on its historical treaty lands.
He also said in the campaign that he wants to create armed checkpoints to deal with overweight trucks, limit the smuggling of drugs and alcohol onto the reservation, and keep domestic abusers from fleeing the reservation.
Winning reelection as vice president of the tribe was Darla Black, who defeated Thomas Poor Bear just as she did 2 years ago when he was the incumbent. Black received 2,022 votes to 1,718 for Poor Bear.
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