KYLE, S.D. (KEVN TV) -- The Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurated a new president Friday in Kyle as the Julian Bear Runner administration formally kicked off.
Bear Runner's election last month marked a generation shift. At 33 he is the youngest president of the tribe since the 1970s. He rode to victory on a platform that promised to put traditional spirituality and ceremonies back into tribal government.
On Friday at the gymnasium at Little Wound High School he told tribal membership he felt a weight on his shoulders with his new responsibilities -- but that he accepts it with optimism.
"It's a new beginning for the Oglala Sioux Tribe," he said. "You know, it's a rejuvenating day with young, new leadership coming in to office. I'm very honored to be able to take on this task and this opportunity to make a better tomorrow."
Former president Bryan Brewer offered words of encouragement.
"This is a day of hope for us, the Lakota people," he said. "The Oglala Lakota People have sent a clear message by the election of Julian Bear Runner that we want change and I believe change is going to happen."
Bear Runner said his early priorities will include protecting tribal sovereignty and keeping Pine Ridge workplaces drug free.
"One of the first things is to work on bringing back zero tolerance," he said, adding he wants to enforce the federal Drug Free Workplace Act that bars intoxication. "With the ever growing meth epidemic and opioid epidemic we as the Oglala Sioux Tribe need to stand firm and stand strong against abuse."
All the members of the tribal council were also formally welcomed into office as was the re-elected Vice President Darla Black who called for an end to what she said was corruption in the tribal government.
She told tribal membership she will ask Bear Runner to seek a formal audit of the tribe's books.