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Bill Janklow's Death Gives South Dakota Tribal Leader Chance To Vent

When someone dies, the eulogies roll in, the higher the stature of the departed, the more stately the praise.

And that's certainly somewhat true for Bill Janklow, South Dakota's former congressman and governor who died Thursday from his brain cancer.

The Argus Leader, the state's largest newspaper, has posted tributes from the state's political and business leaders on its web site, that laud Janklow as one of the most important leaders in South Dakota's modern history.

But Janklow, who resigned his congressional seat in 2003 after he was convicted of manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist, had made some political enemies, and that's reflected amid the posted reactions as well:

Rodney Bordeaux, Rosebud Tribal Chairman: "I was in high school when (Janklow) was working at Dakota Plains Legal Services. He was very effective defending tribal members in tribal court. Initially, he was well thought of. That changed when he left here. Here, he was a well-respected attorney. What we say is he went to the other side, opposing tribal sovereignty.

It is fair to say within tribal governments he is not as well respected as he is by the rest of South Dakota. When we were establishing our sovereignty and economic base, we did not get any help from him at all. We do not see him really contributing to our development. Gov. Janklow was not a friend of tribal governments."

So much for not speaking ill of the dead.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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