Wizipan Garriott, 28, has been appointed First Americans
Public Liaison, a newly created position in President-elect Barack
Obamas transition team. The position is aimed at honoring
a nation-to-nation relationship with tribes.
Brundage, a spokeswoman for the team, confirmed Garriotts
role Dec. 10.
a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, could not offer comment on
the development, as members of Obamas transition team have
been instructed not to talk about their specific contributions.
position on the transition group brings the total number of Native
Americans serving on it to seven. Indian Country Today previously
reported that John Echohawk, Keith Harper, Robert Anderson, Mary
Smith, Mary McNeil and Yvette Robideaux all hold positions on the
whose first name means burden in Lakota, graduated from
Yale University in 2003 with a degree in American studies. He then
went on to work as an assistant to former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D.,
who has been a key player in the Obama campaign and was recently
tapped to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Daschle lost his bid for re-election in 2004, Garriott attended
the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson,
and obtained a law degree there in June. In 2005, he also helped
incorporate the He Sapa Leadership Academy, a college preparatory
school on his reservation for students in grades eight to 12.
Daschle became involved with Obamas campaign, the longtime
politician ultimately ecommended Garriott to become a part of the
recommendation was helpful, as Garriott ended up joining the Obama
campaign for president as a Native American outreach coordinator
in Sept. 2007. In June, he was officially hired as the campaigns
First Americans vote director. His chief objective was collaborating
with tribes and Native groups, trying to get out the Native vote
in many states, including New Mexico, Wisconsin, Montana and Michigan.
us, the campaign has always been about community empowerment,
Garriott told ICT in late-September.
tried to put as many resources as possible into Indian communities
so we can help our own people organize and empower themselves. Thats
what this is all about.
also predicted in the interview that Indian participation in the
election would help sway the vote in close swing states.
is the son of Elizabeth Little Elk, who works for the Rosebud Sioux
Tribe in the child and family services arena, and Charlie Garriott,
a teacher at Todd County High School, located on the reservation
in Mission, S.D.
in college, Garriott served as a peer counselor to younger Native
students. Amid controversy over whether there should be ethnic counselors
and cultural houses at the institution, he made it be known that
he felt such networks are beneficial, especially for reservation
a December 2002 issue of The Yale Herald, Garriott noted that the
majority of reservation youth hail from economically depressed areas,
which can make it especially difficult for Indian students to adjust
to mainstream colleges, both academically and culturally.
Yale, Garriott also worked as vice-president of Night Shield Entertainment,
a music-focused company founded by one of his Native friends, Gabriel
Night Shield. Garriott assisted with promotion and helped with efforts
on distribution, talent evaluation and music selection.
learning of Garriotts new appointment, Night Shield said he
and many other tribal members were really proud of what Wizi
were joking about it the other day maybe in about 20 years
well be voting for Wizi as president, said Night Shield,
who attended high school at St. Francis Indian School with Garriott
in South Dakota.