Yesterday was the birthday of Tex Hall, who was born in 1956 on the family’s cattle ranch near Mandaree. He was one of eight children and is of Mandan and Arikara ancestry. His Native name, Ihbudah Hishi, means Red Tipped Arrow.
During Tex’s early childhood, his grandfather served as chairman of the Tribal Council for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arika – now called the Three Affiliated Tribes. Tex remembers his grandfather telling him, “Pay attention and learn as much as you can, because someday you may have to lead your people.”
Hall’s father, Leland, also sat on the Tribal Council (which can be compared to being elected to the state legislature). Like many others on the Ft. Berthold Reservation, Leland struggled to support his large family. Tex and his brothers each had just two sets of overalls, one for school and one for farmwork.
Believing education was vitally important, Leland urged his children to study hard and “compete with the non-Indians in their own arena.” Tex says that throughout his life, he has followed his father’s advice – to be a fighter.
Hall graduated from high school in a time when only 40% of Native Americans got their diplomas. Only 8% were getting college degrees when he graduated from the University of Mary, in Bismarck, but he didn’t stop there. He earned a masters degree in educational administration from USD. He began teaching school and coaching basketball and eventually became principal and then superintendent in Mandaree. In 1995, he was named ND Indian Educator of the Year.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Hall eventually won a seat on the Tribal Council. Then, in 1998, he became the first sitting council member to be elected chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes. He was reelected four years later.
Hall was elected President of the National Congress of American Indians in 2001. It was the first time in history that anybody from his tribe, or from the state of North Dakota, has been elected to this position – perhaps the highest within the Native American political structure.
Earlier this year, Chairman Hall presented his 2005 “State of the Indian Nations Address” before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In his address, he expressed concern that federal spending on healthcare for Indians is 1/3 less per capita than for Medicaid recipients, and that even federal prisoners receive better healthcare. Among Hall’s many concerns has been healthcare for Native Americans. He points out their death rate from flu and pneumonia is 71% higher than the national rate; diabetes is 249% higher; and tuberculosis is 533% higher.
Among many other issues, Hall is also troubled about “jurisdictional confusion.” As it stands, tribes don’t have legal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on reservations. If a non-Indian commits rape or murder on tribal lands, tribal police can’t legally detain them.
Chairman Hall is tackling many other issues and goals as well, including working toward his Ph.D. But he also takes time to have fun. He’s fiercely loyal to the Minnesota Vikings, and he still plays basketball. In fact, his team, the North Dakota Warriors, has won five National Indian Athletic Assn. titles. In 1999, Hall was inducted into the ND Sports College Hall of Fame, not only for his excellence as a high-school player, but also for establishing Tex Hall Basketball Camps in the U.S. and Canada.
Source: “Tex G. Hall, president of The National Council of American Indians.” (Cover story.) Current Biography. May 2005. <http://www.hwwilson.com/currentbio/cover_bios/cover_bio_5_05.htm>
King, Frank J, III. The Native Voice. (No date given) <http://www.nativevoicemedia.com/>
Baker-Embry, Glenda: Public Relations Director for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikira Nation.
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm