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Gov. Kristi Noem banned from fourth South Dakota reservation

Posted at 9:06 AM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 11:09:12-04

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in south-central South Dakota is the fourth tribal nation to ban Gov. Kristi Noem from tribal lands this year.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe banished Noem in February after she spoke to the Legislature alleging Mexican drug cartels have infiltrated reservations. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe banned Noem earlier this month for comments she made at a town hall in Winner, alleging some tribal leaders are “personally benefiting” from cartels. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe banned Noem this week for her comments and in solidarity.

Five tribes have demanded an apology from Noem since the town hall. She has not issued an apology, but has issued press releases calling on tribes to “banish the cartels.

Coupled with her calls to banish the cartels, Noem has encouraged tribal governments to participate in partnerships with the South Dakota Highway Patrol to provide temporary law enforcement on reservations, and this week she offered a state law enforcement course for prospective tribal police. She has also called on the federal government to audit funding to the tribes to “determine the scope” of underfunding to the nine tribal nations in South Dakota.

“Tribal leaders should immediately banish the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for murders, rapes, drug addiction, and many more crimes on tribal lands,” Noem said in an emailed statement to South Dakota Searchlight. “The people in the communities live with unspeakable horrors and tragedy every day, but banishing me for telling the truth about the suffering does nothing to solve the problems. It may play well for the leftist media, but in reality, it’s pointless. The real question you should be asking is: ‘Why won’t tribal leaders banish the Mexican drug cartels who are responsible for this devastation?’”

In a news release announcing the banishment, Rosebud Sioux Tribe officials said the ban is justified not just because of Noem’s recent comments but because of a strained relationship since she took office in 2019.

“Governor Noem claims she wants to establish meaningful relationships with Tribes to improve solutions for systemic problems,” the release said. “However, her actions as Governor blatantly show otherwise. The recent racial disparaging allegations made against Native students, parents, Tribal Councils, and Tribal leaders have led to further division and distrust of Tribal-state relations.”

Examples of Noem’s alleged “disingenuous nature toward Native Americans” during her tenure as governor cited in the news release include:

“Moving forward, we will only acknowledge Governor Noem after she issues a public apology to the Oceti Sakowin,” the release said, “and presents a plan of action for supporting and empowering the Lakota people through policy and legislation.”
The Oceti Sakowin is the collective term for Lakota, Dakota and Nakota speaking Native Americans, most of whom are located in the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada.

Ian Fury, spokesman for Noem, said the governor’s administration will continue efforts to work with tribes.

“Gov. Noem has consistently shown up, welcomed conversations and offered solutions — and she’ll continue to do that for as long as she’s governor,” Fury told South Dakota Searchlight.

Requests for further comment from Rosebud Tribal President Scott Herman were not returned before this article was published.

Noem also pointed out in an interview this week with KELO-TV that her banishment from Standing Rock Reservation was decided by mostly North Dakota tribal council members rather than South Dakota representatives.


This story was originally produced by the South Dakota Searchlight which is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network, including the Daily Montanan, supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.