State of the Tribes (copy) (copy)

Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier is seen here speaking at the 2016 State of the Tribes at the South Dakota Statehouse.

The leaders of two tribes in South Dakota lost their bids for leadership positions with the National Congress of American Indians, the nation's oldest and largest Native American advocacy group. 

Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, ran for NCAI president, while Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, ran for vice president. The election, which is open to NCAI members, occurred Thursday morning at the annual convention in Albuquerque. 

Frazier, one of four candidates for president, came in second with 17.9 percent of the vote, according to live tweets of the results from Indianz.com. Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Nation in Washington, will serve as the next NCAI president after receiving 62 percent of the vote. 

With 9.5 percent of the votes, Bear Runner finished last out of the four vice-president candidates. Aaron Payment, chairperson of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, was re-elected as NCAI vice president after earning 51.5 percent of the vote in a run-off election. 

Frazier and Bear Runner both stressed the importance of tribal sovereignty and have been outspoken opponents of pipelines crossing through land the federal government promised to the Lakota people that they fear will endanger drinking water and increase the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

They've also been critical of the organization they hoped to help lead. Earlier this year, Bear Runner criticized NCAI's fees and internal disputes, according to a Feb. 14 article by Indianz.com. And on Sept. 28, 2018, Frazier wrote an opinion piece for the website where he criticized NCAI for allegations of sexual harassment within the organization and a lack of communication and financial transparency.

The NCAI election comes as the organization is rebounding from the resignation of its long-serving executive director and firing of its highest ranking attorney, who was accused of sexual harassment, according to a Feb. 20 Indianz.com article

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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