fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is expected to declare a state of emergency due to rampant crime,  six months after a federal judge ruled that the U.S. government has a treaty obligation to provide adequate law enforcement on the reservation but declined to determine whether the Oglala Sioux Tribe is entitled to the full funding amount requested.
 

In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Oglala Sioux President Frank Star Comes Out said that conditions on the reservation have worsened since the ruling.  

He added that the negotiations between the federal government and the reservation regarding funding law enforcement have not moved forward. 

“I feel they’re stalling,” Star Comes Out told the AP. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

With a population of more than 40,000, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the 8th-largest reservation and one of the poorest in the nation. The Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Justice Services (OJS) provides Pine Ridge with 33 federally funded officers and eight federally funded criminal investigators to respond to major crimes on the 5,400-square-mile reservation. 

According to the Tribe’s original complaint, filed on July 26, 2022, 911 emergency calls on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 2021 included:

  • 794 calls involving an assault
  • 1,463 domestic violence calls
  • 522-gun related calls
  • 541 drug/narcotic calls 
  • 541 reporting missing persons 

The Tribe argued that funding can only provide six to eight federal law enforcement officers per shift. According to the DOI, “basic” law enforcement needs 2.8 officers per 1,000 people. If this standard were to be applied to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation service area, the reservation would be approximately 112 federal law enforcement officers.

Star Comes Out told the AP that police response times on the reservation take hours, if they respond at all. 

“With five police officers, it’s just impossible,” he said. “Our officers are overworked, underpaid. They’re outmanned. And it’s dangerous for them to respond to calls by themselves.”

In May, U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange ordered the United States to meet with the Tribe to amend the law enforcement contracts to reflect “what amount is necessary to satisfy the United States’ treaty-based duty to the Tribe concerning protection and law enforcement support and cooperation.”

Following the May decision, Star Comes Out stated, “We are hopeful the United States abides by the Court’s direction immediately and provides the Tribe with the resources needed to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Pine Ridge Reservation as soon as possible.” 

More Stories Like This

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to Host Hearing on Public Safety in Indian Country
Native Bidaské with Kevin Sharp on Leonard Peltier’s Upcoming Parole Hearing
Senate Subcommittee to Hear Testimony on President Biden’s FY Budget for Indian Programs on Thursday
Native News Weekly (May 19, 2024): D.C. Briefs
Native Artist and Former Cultural Advisor to the Chicago Blackhawks Sues Team for Sexual Harassment, Fraud

These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].