Published March 15, 2019
WAGNER, S.D. — “The Ihanktonwan Nation stands in unity with the Crow Creek Sioux and Oglala Sioux Tribes in refusing to have the Tribe’s flag flown in the South Dakota State Capitol” stated Vice Chairman Jason Cooke of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
The flag of the Ihanktonwan Nation flew in unity with Tribes from across the World over the Oceti Sakowin camp in the peaceful protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our Flag is flown to show support, unity, and trust. Our Flag is our National Symbol.
Like the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and all tribes that share a common geography and citizenry with the State of South Dakota, the Yankton Sioux Tribe had great hope in Governor Kristi Noem to strengthen our relationship with the State. We were exteremely encouraged when Governor Noem selected former Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Chairman David Flute as Secretary of Tribal Relations, who stood at Standing Rock in unity with all the Tribes. We expected a new dawn but instead saw a retreat to the past.
Unity and trust can only work through honest engagement. The Governor hosted Tribal Relations Day knowing she was about to introduce two bills, through a Suspension of Rules, that would dramatically impact the Tribes and their members/citizens. At the event, Governor Noem mentioned unity and a desire to build on our mutual relationship but not one word or discussion of these bills. In the over 6000 hours the Governor claims to have spent drafting these poorly written laws, not one minute, nor one second was given to hear, seek concerns, advice, or ideas from any of the nine tribes located within the boundaries of the State. When a Governor spends 6000 hours with a foreign company planning laws that would arrest her own citizens for peacefully protesting that same company, the unity the Governor speaks of is between her and TransCanada.
As such, until the State Government of South Dakota recinds these authoritarian laws, SB 189 and SB 190, and respects the rights of all citizens of South Dakota to peacefully assemble and express free speech, the Flag of the Yankton Sioux Tribe cannot fly in the State Capitol. The Ihanktonwan Nation is not in unity with the Governor in suppressing the free speech and assembly of its citizens.