Noem adds two to cabinet

PIERRE, S.D. -- Governor-elect Kristi Noem has added two more members to her cabinet.

David Flute, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, will join Noem's cabinet as Secretary of Tribal Relations, while Hughes County Sheriff Michael Leidholt will become the Secretary of the Department of Corrections.

Noem announced Flute's selection Wednesday, Dec. 26, calling the tribal chairman's knowledge and passion of Native American affairs "instrumental in our work to empower tribes."

As tribal chairman, Flute led the charge of several economic growth initiatives on the reservation, and has represented the South Dakota Native American community in negotiations with the state on tax matters and before the U.S. Senate.

"I look forward to partnering with (Noem) to build intentional partnerships that support tribal sovereignty while actively addressing problems the native community faces every day," Flute said.

Flute, who earned two Army Commendation Medals and a Purple Heart while serving with the South Dakota National Guard, lives in Sisseton with his two sons.

The announcement of Leidholt's selection came Thursday morning, with Noem lauding Leidholt's work with the D.A.R.E. program and bringing awareness to mental health and Native American challenges across the state.

“It’s essential we create an environment in which both families and growing businesses can feel safe to call South Dakota home,” Noem said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to work with Sheriff Leidholt to expand correctional options in our state, keep victims at the center of our criminal justice system, and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenders."