The Department of Tribal Relations works with American Indian leaders to help their tribes in the state. It looks for ways the state can work with tribes to improve life for all of South Dakota.  The secretary of the department is Steve Emery. He is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and spent his early years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. He attended high school on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. In 1980, he joined the United States Army and is a combat veteran.

Before becoming secretary for the Department of Tribal Relations, he served as a chief judge for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and a special judge for the Yankton and Rosebud Sioux Tribes.