Following is information about the outbreak of the the covonavirus at Pine Ridge from Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Counsel of the Lakota People’s Law Project.
I write with unfortunate news: we’re now dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Pine Ridge. We’re up to at least five positive tests here, a rapidly growing number that has forced a 72-hour lockdown.
This demonstrates why it’s absolutely critical that many of you have taken the time to tell South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem not to challenge our COVID-19 checkpoints. Fortunately, your pressure is working. You sent more than 15,000 emails to the governor, and she flinched — failing to follow through on her 48-hour legal deadline.
As Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner’s spokesperson and public relations director, protecting the people of this nation and sharing our stories are my sacred duties. I’m proud of the powerful conversation my president had last night with Don Lemon on CNN. Please watch and share it. We must continue to win the public education battle.
This outbreak is yet another demonstration of Governor Noem’s statewide policy failure with COVID-19. This is why we’ve taken matters into our own hands. We are so obviously on the right side of this that 17 state lawmakers, including a Republican, have penned an open letter to the governor in support of us. Even Fox News is having a hard time spinning this one in the governor’s favor.
I thank you, with all of my heart, for listening and acting in friendship with my relatives. If we stand our ground and keep the conversation going, we will prevail — over ignorance in our state capitol and over this pandemic.
Wopila — my sincere thanks for your attention,
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
From the transcript of this video:
Don Lemon: You say that the checkpoints are necessary
because governor Noem isn’t doing enough
to protect tribal health and safety. What
does she need to do?
President of the Oglala Sioux tribe Julian Bear Runner: I really feel that
the governor needs to really
have a serious consultation with the
tribe and not try to dictate to us
as tribal leaders. What is in the best interest of our
people. But rather listen and support the
tribes because we live here, we know our
people. I’ve been born and raised
here. We involve our
spirituality within our actions and
that’s what helps lead and guide us and
that has got us through history
to today. And so we incorporate a lot of
our traditions with the decisions that we make as tribal leaders.
My advice to her is to
really sit down and just take
the lead from the tribes. Listen to us and support us.
Don Lemon: You and leaders of the
Cheyenne River Sioux tribe say medical
resources are very limited. An outbreak
would be devastating. The closest ICU
hours away. Is standing your ground a
matter of life or death?
Julian Bear Runner: Indeed, sir it definitely is a life
or death situation for us. You know right now here on the
reservation we currently have four
ventilators that is being provided
through the Indian Health Service which is a treaty obligation of
the United States to provide us that help.
I reside amongst 30,000 tribal members that live here on
the reservation. We have 45,000
enrolled members and we have a service
to each and every one of those
individuals but you know how is four
ventilators going to really you
know if this pandemic or this virus hits
A great majority of my membership suffer and
right now we currently have positive cases
here on the reservation and they’re not requiring those
intensive medical procedures at this
moment. But if you look at our you know one of our southern
relatives the Navajo Nation Indian Health Service the
United States government has the obligation to them as well.
It’s very fearing for me as a
tribal leader because I have an
obligation to look out for the health
and welfare of every enrolled tribal
member. This conflict comes at a time
when the governor refused to issue an
official stay at home order and South
Dakota’s new coronavirus cases are on the
rise. There are now more than 3700 cases
in the state.