- By Levi Rickert
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Runner Bear reacted to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s Friday letter in which she threatened legal action against the Oglala Sioux Tribe if 10 checkpoints into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were not removed within 48 hours.
Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Running Bear
The checkpoints remain intact as of today.
The checkpoints were put in place to help curtail traffic into the reservation, which is home to some 21,000 tribal citizens.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is one of eight South Dakota tribes that said in late April they felt Gov. Noem had not taken strong enough action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. She never issued a stay-at-home order in the state. During the third week of April, Smithfield Foods meat packing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota had 700 of its 3,700 employees test positive for the coronavirus.
After receipt of Friday’s letter from the Gov. Noem, the Oglala Sioux Tribe said they would not abide by the request to remove the checkpoints.
“Governor Noem miscalculates our level of dedication to protect our most vulnerable people from crony capitalism’s thrust to force us to open our economy as they choose to do,” Runner Bear wrote.
For Runner Bear, Noem’s request with a threat of legal action if the checkpoints are not removed, comes down to the sovereignty of tribes.
“The Oglala band is ready to stand against foreign intrusion into our daily lives. We have a prior and superior right to make our own laws and be governed by them. We don’t go into their homes and make threats against them.”
According to the South Dakota Department of Health coronavirus website, as of Sunday, May 10, there have been 3,393 confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the state and 34 confirmed deaths. In Oglala County, where the Pine Ridge Indian Reservations sits, there has been one confirmed coronavirus case and zero deaths.
Since you're here...
We believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift of $5 or more to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. 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.