- By Levi Rickert
PIERRE, S.D. — The leaders of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe received letters from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem on Friday telling them they need to remove the checkpoints onto their respective Indian reservations.
Noem’s letters were sent to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier and Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Neom
While the letters were written as requests to tribes to remove the checkpoints, Gov. Noem gave each tribe 48 hours to remove the checkpoints or face legal action.
On Friday afternoon, both tribes said they would not take down the checkpoints that were installed to keep outsiders out and insiders in the reservation to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Oglala Sioux Tribe’s spokesperson Chase Iron Eyes told Native News Online on Friday afternoon that the tribe has no intention to remove the 10 checkpoints at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and welcomes an opportunity to sit down with the governor to discuss the matter.
“We are not going to let her treat us like domestic dependents. We make our own laws for our tribal nation,” Iron Eyes said. “Why would we allow the illegal aliens to bring disease onto our homelands.”
Iron Eyes said he feels the Gov. Noem has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic and has not taken strong enough action.
“She has relied on South Dakotans to exercise common sense and resiliency to fight the virus. Our tribal nation has been stronger with our lockdowns,” Iron Eyes said.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Chairman Frazier says his tribe has worked with county commissioners and other officials.
“Many have been inconvenienced by the current situation, but the virus does not differentiate between (tribal) members and non-members. It obligates us to protect everyone on the reservation regardless of political distinctions. We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death,” Chairman Frazier said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “I stand with our elder Councilman Ed Widow that the purpose of our actions is to ‘save lives rather than save face.’”
In his statement, Chairman Frazier cites the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty that says “no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same.”
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier. Native News Online photograph by Levi Rickert
One Democratic South Dakota state senator, who is a Lakota and Navajo, weighed in on the showdown between the governor and tribes.
“Treaties are the supreme law of the land and must be enforced, even though the state roads go through sovereign tribal nations, they change jurisdiction. Tribes, as sovereign nations, are responsible for protecting our people,” said State Senator Red Dawn Foster, whose senate district covers the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“They have taken into consideration the high number of vulnerable populations with underlying health issues, our healthcare facilities’ capacity, remote location and distance our citizens have to travel for access to healthcare and have determined checkpoints are necessary components to keeping our people safe.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained an editing error. The spokesperson for the Oglala Sioux Tribes is Chase Iron Eyes, not Clare Iron Eyes.
More Stories Like ThisNative News Weekly (January 23, 2022): D.C. Briefs
NCAI's 2022 Executive Council Winter Session to be Virtual Again This Year
US Supreme Court Will Not Consider Overturning McGirt Decision; Will Rule on Scope of the Landmark Ruling
Former Gov. Bill Richardson Promotes High-tech Jobs at Navajo Technical University; Donates 200 pairs of Nike Shoes to Crownpoint Students
Navajo Nation to Utilize Drones to Deliver Critical Supplies to Community
The truth about Indian Boarding Schools
This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative called “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.” Our mission is to shine a light on the dark era of forced assimilation of native American children by the U.S. government and churches. You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for Livestream events to understand what the Indian Boarding School era has meant to Native Americans — and what it still means today.
This news will be provided free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.