Washington, D.C. – December 30, 2020 – The National Indian Gaming Association joins the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in mourning the loss of former Tribal Chairman Robert Shepherd, who passed away on Sunday, December 27.
Shepard, 45, who served two consecutive terms as tribal Chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe from 2011-2015, passed away from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in South Dakota early last week.
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., said, "We are saddened to hear about the passing of Robert Shepard. He was an Indian Country Warrior and a Veteran who had a passion for not only the people of Sisseton-Wahpeton but all of Indian Country. He was a progressive leader who served his country and lived his professional life dedicated to advancing economic development throughout all Tribal Nations. Robert Shepard was my friend. I had great respect and admiration for him. He definitely made a great impact on all of Indian country in so many ways.
Stevens said one of the greatest honors of his life was being asked to deliver a keynote address at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate inauguration ceremony leading into Shepard's second term as tribal Chairman. He added, "Robert was a role model who walked his talk, with passion and even temperament, always working to prepare our next generation of young men and women Warriors to accept leadership responsibilities."
At the time of his passing, Shepard was CEO and owner of Shepherd Solutions, LLC and was the Tribal Relations Officer at Monarch America, a publicly traded Cannabis Consulting Company located in Denver, Colorado.
Before being elected to the position of Tribal Chairman, his employment experiences consisted of Tribal Planning Director overseeing, Community Planning, Zoning Office, Economic Development, Energy Office, Transportation Office, Tourism, Parks & Recreation, and Small Business Development. From 1996 to 2004, he served in the United States Navy, completing two tours overseas, and was an honorably discharged Veteran at the rank of E-5.
His tribal leadership representation was vast and went beyond his service as Tribal Chairman at Sisseton- Wahpeton. He served as Secretary of National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Regional Vice President of NCAI, representing the Great Plains Region. He also served as Co-Chair of the Tribal Interior Budget Council, an advisory board of Tribal leaders to the Department of Interior Secretary on the federal budget. He was Vice-President of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, Chairman of the Great Sioux Nation of South Dakota, an association of all Chairman in South Dakota, an advisory board member of the South Dakota Board of Military Affairs, Secretary of United Tribes Technical College School Board. He was a Board Member of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and the Indian Law Resource Center.
Robert was born on October 06, 1975. He graduated from Tiospa Zina Tribal School and attended Sisseton Wahpeton Community College in Sisseton, South Dakota. He then transferred to the University of North Dakota in North Fork, where he completed his Bachelor of Science Degree before obtaining his Executive Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 31, at the Sisseton Wahpeton College at 10 a.m. - CST. He will be laid to rest next to his mother at the St. Mary's Cemetery in Sisseton.