The Sioux tribe of South Dakota refuses to eliminate checkpoints that the governor deems illegal

Sioux tribe rejects request to remove virus checkpoints

Governor Kristi Noem sent letters Friday to tribal leaders Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux demanding that checkpoints along the United States and state highways through tribal land be removed.

His office released an update on Sunday clarifying the request: “Checkpoints on state and US highways are not legal and, if they do not go down, the state will bring the matter to the federal court, as Governor Noem noted in his letter from the Friday. “

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe President Harold Frazier told CNN that the main purpose of the tribe’s established checkpoints is to monitor and try to track down the coronavirus if it ever arrives in tribal lands.

“We want to ensure that people from” hot spots “or highly infected areas ask them to go around our land,” said Frazier.

Asked about Noem’s request for the tribe to pull down checkpoints while “interfering with traffic regulation on US and US roads,” Frazier said they will stand still.

“With the lack of resources we have medically, this is our best tool we have now to try and prevent [the spread of Covid-19]”Frazier told CNN. Frazier said the reserves are ill-equipped to cope with a coronavirus outbreak by adding that” the closest health care, critical care is three hours from where we live. “

Frazier states that the Sioux tribe of the Cheyenne River manages only an eight-bed facility in the reservation and no intensive care unit (ICU) for the 12,000 people living in the reservation.

The governor says “perfectly clear it’s illegal”

Sunday’s letter written by Governor Noem’s political director, Maggie Seidel, points to memorandum relating to road closures on tribal lands issued by the Department of Indian Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior, written on April 8.

The memorandum states that tribes “can limit the use of the road or temporarily” close the roads owned by the tribe without first consulting the interior secretary or private landowners in conditions involving “immediate or dangerous security situations for the life “, like the pandemic.

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But he says tribes can limit access on roads owned by others such as state governments “on behalf of the owner of the road concerned after the tribe has consulted and reached an agreement addressing the parameters of road closure or temporary road restrictions “.

Seidel says that no consultation has been carried out and no agreement has been reached, stating that “the memorandum makes it perfectly clear that it is illegal to interrupt the flow of traffic on these roads”.

In Friday’s letter, Noem stated that “we are stronger when we work together; this includes our battle against Covid-19.”

“Save lives instead of saving face”

Frazier said in a press release Friday that while he agreed that it is important to work together, “you continue to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the booking.”

“Ignorant statements and fiery rhetoric encourage people already under stress from this situation to take irrational actions,” he said. “We invite you to join us to protect the lives of our people and those who live on this reserve. I deeply regret rejecting your request.”

The purpose of the tribe’s actions, said Frazier, is to “save lives rather than save face”.

CNN also contacted the Oglala Sioux tribe for comment, but received no response.

Checkpoint policies

According to the checkpoint of the Sioux tribe of the Cheyenne river policies published on social mediaresidents of your reservation may travel to South Dakota to areas that the state has not considered a Covid-19 “hotspot” if it is an essential activity such as medical appointments or to make supplies unavailable on the reservation. But they have to fill out a health questionnaire when they go out and when they come back every time they go through a checkpoint.

South Dakota residents who do not live in the reservation are allowed only if they do not come from a hotspot and it is for an essential activity. But they must also complete a health questionnaire.

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Those who come from a South Dakota hotspot or from a country outside the state cannot come to the reservation except for an essential activity, but must obtain a travel permit available on the tribe’s website.

Both tribes have also issued strict home return and curfew orders for their communities. Noem has not issued residence orders for the state.

There are 198 cases of Covid-19 among Native Americans in the state as of Sunday, according to state health department figures. The state has more than 3,500 confirmed cases and at least 34 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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