South Dakota governor Kristi Noem (Republican) demanded the Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes take down their Covid-19 checkpoints on highways entering their lands. This is a microcosm of decades of colonization, the Republican policy of putting economics above public safety, and the infringement on civil liberties by criminalizing peaceful protest. Noem is one of the few governors, all Republicans, who refused to issue stay-at-home orders, like our governor, Kim Reynolds, in Iowa. Both states have significant outbreaks of Covid-19 in meat processing plants and the surrounding communities. The Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux do have stay-at-home restrictions.
- South Dakota governor tells Sioux tribes they have 48 hours to remove Covid-19 checkpoints May 9, 2020
- Follow-up on the state of South Dakota vs Sioux Tribes May 9, 2020
On Saturday a group of 17 South Dakota legislators urged the state’s governor to try to reach a compromise with two tribes, saying they did not wish to be party of another lawsuit that will ultimately cost the people of South Dakota more money.
In their letter to the governor, the lawmakers said the state did not have jurisdiction in the matter, citing the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties and a 1990 ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which they said “held that the State of South Dakota has no jurisdiction over the highways running through Indian lands in the state without tribal consent. “The 1851 agreement, among other things, pledged peace between tribes as well as recognized the government’s right to create roads and posts in parts of tribes’ territories. The 1868 document recognized the Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux reservation and established it would be exclusively used by the tribe, according to the National Archives.South Dakota’s governor threatened to take two tribes to court over coronavirus checkpoints. Here’s what to know By Sara Sidner, Artemis Moshtaghian and Susannah Cullinane and Leslie Perrot, CNN, 5/11/2020
The checkpoints are to help protect against the spread of coronavirus in Native communities while the governor is trying to make an issue of who has the authority, which the state of South Dakota does not have.
The Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes set up checkpoints to regulate who comes in and goes through their reservations.South Dakota’s governor threatened to take two tribes to court over coronavirus checkpoints. Here’s what to know By Sara Sidner, Artemis Moshtaghian and Susannah Cullinane and Leslie Perrot, CNN, 5/11/2020
Both tribes have also issued strict stay-at-home orders — while Noem has not done so for the state — and curfews for their communities.
The checkpoints, established to help control the spread of the coronavirus, are the reservations’ best tool to protect themselves against the illness, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier told CNN. He said reservations aren’t equipped to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.
“The nearest health care, critical care is three hours away from where we live,” Frazier said. The tribe operates an eight-bed facility on the reservation — that is home to 12,000 people — and no intensive care unit (ICU), Frazier said.
About 198 Native Americans have been infected in the state so far, according to state data. At least 3,517 people in South Dakota have tested positive for the virus and at least 34 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier told CNN that the main purpose of the checkpoints set up by the tribe is to monitor and try to track coronavirus if it should ever come in to tribal lands.South Dakota Sioux tribe refuses to take down checkpoints that governor says are illegal By Sara Sidner, Leslie Perrot, Artemis Moshtaghian and Susannah Cullinane, CNN, 5/10/2020
“We want to ensure that people coming from ‘hot spots’ or highly infected areas, we ask them to go around our land,” Frazier said.
When asked about Noem’s request that the tribe take down the checkpoints as they “interfere with regulating traffic on US and state highways,” Frazier said that they’re going to stay put.
“With the lack of resources we have medically, this is our best tool we have right now to try to prevent [the spread of Covid-19],” Frazier told CNN. Frazier said that reservations are ill-equipped to deal with a coronavirus outbreak adding that, “the nearest health care, critical care is three hours away from where we live.”
Frazier says that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe only operates an eight-bed facility on the reservation and no intensive care unit (ICU) for the 12,000 people that live on the reservation.
How do the checkpoints work?
Reservation residents may travel within South Dakota to areas the state hasn’t deemed as a hot spot for the virus if it’s for an essential activity, according to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe checkpoint policies posted on social media.Those activities include medical appointments or getting supplies that may not be available on the reservation.But residents must complete a health questionnaire every time they go through a checkpoint, both when they leave and when they return, according to the policies.As for South Dakota residents who don’t live on the reservation, they’re only allowed there if they’re not coming from a hot spot and if they are there for an essential activity. Those individuals also must complete a health questionnaire.For those coming from a hot spot, they can only go to the reservation for essential activities — and can only do so after obtaining a travel permit, available on the tribe’s website.South Dakota’s governor threatened to take two tribes to court over coronavirus checkpoints. Here’s what to know By Sara Sidner, Artemis Moshtaghian and Susannah Cullinane and Leslie Perrot, CNN, 5/11/2020
“We have an inherent and sovereign right to protect the health of our people, and no one, man or woman, can dispute that right,” Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said in a video posted to Facebook over the weekend.Sioux tribes reject South Dakota governor’s request to take down coronavirus checkpoints by Aris Folley, The HILL, 5/10/2020
“We must adopt serious measures to proactively deal with the serious public health crisis. We demand you to respect our sovereignty,” he continued. “Your threats of legal action are not helpful and do not intimidate us. The only way we can get through this is to work together as a nation.”
Bear Runner also said in his statement that his tribe believes it is operating “in full compliance” with the April memo, as it “has not closed non-travel roads or highways owned by the state of South Dakota or any other government.”
“It is not our intent to restrict access to such roads or highways,” he said. “We believe we are operating with your acknowledgement to our travel checkpoints since we advised you of the checkpoints and heard no objections.”
He added that tribal leaders are willing to discuss the matter further with “the United States in a government to government consultation.”
The following are responses from my friends Alton and Foxy Onefeather when I asked them about this situation.
I think the Fort Laramie as well as all other treaties should be honored by the United States government. The Lakotas will not back down. I have no contacts. Thanks for offering the help. It’s awesome to have people wanting to help.Alton Onefeather, Sr
His wife Foxy Onefeather sent this link:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. State of S.D
Holding that state failed to assume even partial jurisdiction in compliance with Public Law 280