Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and other federal judges visited Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Wednesday and were briefed on Lakota culture and talked with tribal officials about issues facing Native Americans.
Alito and the other judges were invited to Pine Ridge by Chief Judge Karen Schreier of the U.S. District Court for South Dakota. They were hosted by Red Cloud Indian School, where they saw young powwow dancers showcase their skills and enjoyed a traditional Lakota meal.
"Our main purpose for the visit is that a lot of our judges did not come from districts that had any Indian Country issues. We're trying to educate them -- and ourselves -- on the issues Native Americans face," Schreier said.
The group included several judges serving within the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Rev. George Winzenburg, president of the Red Cloud School, welcomed the judges and their families to the reservation and thanked them for "wanting to understand the history and culture of the Lakota and other Native peoples."
Several tribal council members accompanied the group, including Oglala Sioux Tribal Chairman John Yellow Bird-Steele, Tribal Chief Judge Pat Lee and Associate Judge Fred Cedar Face. Yellow Bird-Steele briefed the group on current health, economic, road and rural issues of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
To conclude their visit, the guests viewed the last day of Red Cloud Heritage Center's 44th Annual Summer Art Show, which featured more than 150 pieces representing more than 50 Native American artists.