Oglala Sioux Tribal Council unanimously bans Gov. Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation
PINE RIDGE, S.D. — The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to ban South Dakota Gov. Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The council says the decision was based on Gov. Noem’s pipeline bills. The tribe believes that the bills unfairly target Native Americans and allies who support them in their efforts to keep oil pipelines away from tribal lands.
Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner informed Noem of the decision in a letter on Thursday.
The Lakota People’s Law Project sent a press release announcing the news, writing, “Noem may technically govern the entire state, but the Oglala Sioux Tribe holds status as an independent nation functioning with its own, sovereign tribal government. Now the Governor has been asked not to set foot upon a swath of land the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.”
According to the release, 17 of 21 council members were present during the vote to pass the official action in response to Senate Bills 189 and 190, which have been collectively termed the Pipeline Package. Gov. Noem introduced the bills shortly before the end of the 2019 legislative session.
The bills create a legal avenue to seek money from pipeline protesters deemed to be “riot boosting,” defined as participating or funding destructive protests. They also tag pipeline developers for costs associated with building the Keystone XL pipeline through South Dakota.
Both tribes and the American Civil Liberties Union have expressed concern that the laws will limit the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of American citizens. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against S.B. 189, which specifically addresses “riot boosting” protesters, the day after the legislation was signed into law.
NewsCenter1 has reached out to Gov. Noem for a response.
Below is the full text of Bear Runner’s letter.
Dear Governor Noem,
Pursuant to a unanimous Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Action as of May 1, 2019, I am hereby notifying you that you are not welcome to visit our homelands, the Pine Ridge Reservation, until you rescind your support for SB 189 and SB 190 and affirm to your state and this country that First Amendment rights to free, political speech are among the truths you hold to be self-evident. Your newly fabricated, unconstitutionally vague notion of “Riot Boosting” is being litigated against and will not stand. We are particularly offended that you consulted TransCanada before introducing these bills but failed to consult the Oglala Sioux Tribe, or any of the sovereign bands of the Sioux Nation, though our treaty lands would be traversed and endangered by the Keystone XL Pipeline.
According to 97% of scientists, climate change is a very real existential threat to humanity – likely the greatest we’ve ever faced. In light of this, it is clear that the First Amendment – which trumps state law – was intended to protect speech of exactly the type your laws attempt to abrogate. The Keystone XL Pipeline was even deemed by a previous president to be so dangerous to our sacred lands and atmosphere that he shut it down. How can you presume to criminalize those who would agree with that previous presidential judgment and hence take vigorous action to resist dangerous infrastructure?
Water and air are sacred; they are required for our continued life on planet earth. Our institutions of politics and economy must evolve beyond their current condition if we expect to continue the human project long into the future. Indigenous nations have honored and defended the sacred since the dawn of humanity.
We have superior legal title to all the land west of the Missouri River that you and/ or big oil seek to trespass and aggress on. These are our lands and our waters. Before you presume to visit our homelands again, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council must rescind its action as of May 1, 2019. If you do not honor this directive – for example, if you were to repeat your recent visit absent permission from our tribal government – we will have no choice but to banish you.
Nake Nula Waun MaLakota,
Julian Bear Runner
President, Oglala Sioux Tribe