For a number of reasons the coronavirus spread among Native peoples is worse than in other populations in the U.S. Native families live in close proximity to each other and running water is sometimes a problem. When people go to doctor appointments or to get food, the car is full of people. Social distancing is a privilege these peoples don’t have.
Yesterday South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem sent letters to the leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe demanding that checkpoints designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus on tribal land be removed within 48 hours. This from a governor who has not issued stay-at-home orders for the state, which mean there will be high levels of community spread. This from a governor who supported and signed legislation to criminalize protest.
The state of South Dakota doesn’t own any land or interest on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.
“We are strongest when we work together; this includes our battle against Covid-19,” Noem said. “I request that the tribes immediately cease interfering with or regulating traffic on US and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints.”South Dakota governor tells Sioux tribes they have 48 hours to remove Covid-19 checkpoints By Chris Boyette, CNN, Updated 6:24 AM ET, Sat May 9, 2020
According to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe checkpoint policies posted on its social media, its reservation residents may travel within South Dakota to areas the state has not deemed a Covid-19 “hotspot” if it’s for an essential activity such as medical appointments or to get supplies unavailable on the reservation. But they must complete a health questionnaire when they leave and when they return every time they go through a checkpoint.
South Dakota residents who don’t live on the reservation are only allowed there if they’re not coming from a hotspot and it is for an essential activity. But they must also complete a health questionnaire.
Those from a South Dakota hotspot or from outside the state cannot come to the reservation unless it is for an essential activity — but they must obtain a travel permit available on the tribe’s website.
Both tribes have also issued strict stay-at-home orders and curfews for their communities. Noem has not issued stay-at-home orders for the state.
There are 169 cases of Covid-19 among Native Americans in the state as of Friday, the health department said. The state has 3,145 confirmed cases and 31 deaths.
CHEYENNE RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION — As COVID-19 began to spread across the country in late March, the tribal chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe ordered checkpoints that would limit non-reservation travelers into the Cheyenne River Indian Reservations.
Chairman Harold Frazier had a reason for the checkpoints: He wanted to protect his tribal citizens and limit the virus from spreading on the reservation.
“SHOW US HOW THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA OWNS ANY LAND OR INTEREST ON THE CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX TRIBE RESERVATION AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW THE STATE HAS VIOLATED THEIR COMPACT WITH THE UNITED STATES AND THE SECOND CONDITION OF THE ENABLING ACT OF 1889 AS WELL AS ARTICLE XXII OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES,” FRAZIER SAID.
Last week, several South Dakota tribal officials expressed their concerns that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has not acted strongly enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 as have other state governors. So far, she has not instituted a stay-at-home order, banned evictions and power shut-offs, or closed nonessential businesses.
“In light of the lack of action to protect our members and residents on the reservation we are doing the best we can with what is available and will continue to do so,” the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes said in a press release.BIA AND CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX TRIBAL CHAIRMAN SQUARE OFF ON RESERVATION HIGHWAY COVID-19 CHECKPOINT BY LEVI RICKERT, Native News Online.net, 26 APR 2020
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