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Fort Peck Tribes Re-Elect Chairman, Five New Council Members

The entrance to the Fort Peck Nation on highway 408 in northeastern Montana.
Olivia Reingold
Yellowstone Public Radio
The entrance to the Fort Peck Nation on highway 408 in northeastern Montana.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Alexander Smith's age as 24. He is 20. 

The Fort Peck Tribes swore in a new Tribal government Monday. Tribal members elected five newcomers to Tribal Council while upholding the current chairman.

Members of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes re-elected Chairman Floyd Azure this weekend to his third consecutive term. He won with a more than ten percent margin-of-victory on a platform of education.

“We’re not moving forward unless we get our people educated,” he said.

Credit Olivia Reingold / Yellowstone Public Radio
Yellowstone Public Radio
Chairman Floyd Azure pictured in his office on June 21, 2019.

One thing getting in the way? He says teachers don’t have enough leeway to discipline their students.

“Now all they do is turn you and put you in time out,” Azure said. “What the heck is time out?”

He says there wouldn’t be such a respect problem in schools if teachers could discipline their students more, including physical punishments.

He says the respect issue is a societal problem but there are things the tribes can do, like send students to truancy court. It’s a program he says he started as chairman.

“As long as I’m chairman, we’re going to do that. We’ve got to get those kids to school. We’ve got to get them educated.”

He says the program is funded throughout his two-year term as chairman.

There are five public schools on the reservation, plus a head start program and a community college.

Azure joins a tribal council with five new members, one new associate judge, and thirteen incumbents. New Council Member Alexander Smith is the youngest elected official in recent history at the age of 20. He garnered the fourth highest tally of votes among tribal board candidates at 677 votes.

About four out of every ten registered voters among the Tribes participated in the election.

Fort Peck General Election Results:

Chairman: Floyd Azure

Vice-Chairman: Charles "Charlie" Headress, Sr.

Sgt.-at-Arms: Bruce Damon

Chief Judge: Stacie A. Smith

Tribal Council:

Jestin Dupree

Melvin Terry Rattling Thunder, Sr.

Carolyn Brugh

Alexander Smith

Tom R. Escarcega, Sr.

Emerson Young

Dana “Sam” Buckles

Leonard “Bighorn” Crow Belt

Frank Gourneau

Patricia “Patt” Iron Cloud

Justin Gray Hawk

Kaci Wallette

Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.