OST President responds to Governor’s demands to remove travel checkpoints
PINE RIDGE, S.D. — Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner responded Saturday morning to a letter from Governor Kristi Noem urging tribal leaders to remove checkpoints from State and U.S. highways within 48 hours or else face legal action from the State.
Gov. Noem sent letters Friday to leaders of both tribes citing a memorandum from the U.S. Department of Interior sent in early April. According to the memorandum, tribes must consult with the State before closing or restricting travel on State and U.S. Highways.
From the OST council chambers in Pine Ridge, Bear Runner read a prepared statement Saturday afternoon responding to the state, expressing that he was alarmed by Gov. Noem’s letter.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe enacted border monitoring checkpoints in early April. Since then, Bear Runner has issued lockdowns on the reservation to limit the spread of COVID-19 but during the lockdowns, essential travel was also permitted.
In his statement, Bear Runner says the checkpoints were established on mostly Bureau of Indian Affairs roads but also some U.S. and State highways but “no non-tribal roads have closed.” He adds that a policy advisor in the Governor’s office was included on a call to discuss the OST ordinance establishing the checkpoints as well as ran the law by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg and heard no objections.
According to the Governor’s Office, the Bear Runner’s facts surrounding the call with the state are false. NewsCenter1 has also reached out to the Attorney General’s office for comment.
Bear Runner concluded his statements saying he was willing to discuss next steps with the state. “We will work with those willing to work with us,” said Bear Runner.
Governor Kristi Noem urged leaders of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe to remove checkpoints from State and U.S. highways or else “the State will take necessary legal action.”
Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has declined Governor Noem’s request of removing checkpoints on State and U.S. highways.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Frazier claims that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe hasn’t stopped any state or commercial functions as Noem claimed in her letter.
You can view the letters from Gov. Noem and the memorandum below.