South Dakota Tribes Stand Up Against the Governor

Published May 17, 2020

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Stands Up Against South Dakota Governor

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe began monitoring their borders last month in an effort to stop unnecessary visitors who could be carrying the coronavirus. In turn, the Republican governor, who has not taken measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, demanded that the tribes remove the checkpoints on Friday.

On Friday afternoon, both tribes said they would not take down the checkpoints that were installed to keep outsiders out and insiders in the reservation to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Oglala Sioux Tribe’s spokesperson Chase Iron Eyes said he feels the Gov. Noem has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic and has not taken strong enough action.

“She has relied on South Dakotans to exercise common sense and resiliency to fight the virus. Our tribal nation has been stronger with our lockdowns,” Iron Eyes said.

“Many have been inconvenienced by the current situation, but the virus does not differentiate between (tribal) members and non-members. It obligates us to protect everyone on the reservation regardless of political distinctions. We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death,” Chairman Frazier said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

In his statement, Chairman Frazier cites the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty that says “no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same.”

“This is our home, and this is our land,” Frazier said. “One does not come into somebody’s house and tell them how to live.”