Pine Ridge checkpoints remain point of contention with State
Pine Ridge, S.D. — The Pine Ridge Reservation will not remove border checkpoints until the end of the month despite threatened legal action by South Dakota against two tribal governments.
Governor Kristi Noem’s main concern is the use of checkpoints on U.S. and state highways.
“We’ve been having conversations for over a month and seeking resolutions,” said Gov. Noem. “So, obviously it gets a little bit tricky with jurisdictional issues when you deal with the state government, federal government and tribal governments as well.”
According to Oglala Sioux Tribal President Julian Bear Runner, state officials were notified of the tribal ordinance describing criteria for passage, including the use of U.S. and state highways.
“I did make them aware of the new tribal laws,” said Bear Runner. “All their questions were answered, everybody was happy, there was no disagreements, there was no objections brought up from any of the officials on the state or the tribal side, or the county side for that matter.”
President Bear Runner has also made it clear that the only groups being turned away are people traveling from COVID-19 hot spots and those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Despite this, the Governor has claimed that essential services, as well as property owners and ranchers have been turned away from the reservation. When asked to provide evidence, the governor’s office directed NewsCenter1 to the South Dakota Retailers Association.
“I haven’t had any contacts from members related to Pine Ridge,” said Nathan Sanders, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Retailers Association. “All of our contacts have been related to Cheyenne River.”
In order to make travel easier for essential workers, as well as those who may travel between checkpoints more often, the reservation has issued travel passes.
“They fill out an application and their leadership or the business owners, we ask that they send an email to us and then we will print them essential pass,” said Bear Runner. “They present that at the health checkpoint, and we can speed them up through the checkpoint so they don’t have to answer all the questions.”
The tribal government says non-tribal members who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms are permitted to cross tribal lands – but are not allowed to stop.