Wed. May 29th, 2024

South Dakota tribes boot Noem: Get the scoop!

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson May18,2024

Multiple tribal nations in South Dakota have banned Gov. Kristi Noem (R) from their reservation land, citing her immigration, crime and race-related remarks.

Relations between the governor and the tribes have been strained since she took office in 2019. But her recent comments have created even more tension, and she is now unable to step foot on more than 10 percent of the land in the state she governs.

Some of the tribes have also accused Noem, who has been floated as potential vice-presidential pick for former President Trump, of making decisions to boost Trump’s campaign efforts.

Here’s what you need to know about the bans.

First tribe bans Noem from reservations

In early February, the Oglala Sioux Tribe became the first tribal nation in South Dakota to ban Noem from their land. Tribe president Frank Star Comes Out released a statement barring the governor after she made comments about the U.S.-Mexico border in late January.

Noem delivered remarks to the state Legislature, where she said The Mount Rushmore State would send more resources to Texas as it grapples with an influx of migrants at the border, which she called an “invasion.” Her announcement included sending South Dakota National Guard troops.

“Calling the United States’ southern border in Texas an ‘invasion’ by illegal immigrants and criminal groups to justify sending S.D. National Guard troops there is a red herring that the Oglala Sioux Tribe doesn’t support,” Star Comes Out wrote in a statement.

The tribe leader added that migrants “don’t need to be put in cases, separated from their children like during the Trump Administration, or be cut up by razor wire furnished by, of all places, South Dakota.”

He also pushed back on Noem for placing blame on President Biden for the border crisis.

The governor responded that it’s “unfortunate” that the tribe “chose to bring politics” into the “federal government’s failure to enforce federal laws at the southern border and on tribal lands.”

The Hill has reached out to the Star Comes Out’s staff for further comment.

Three more tribes follow suit

On Apr. 2, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe became the second tribe to ban Noem from their reservation.

Members of the Tribal Council were frustrated by the governor’s uninvited attendance at the quarterly Pe’ Sla meeting on March 29 in Rapid City. Chairman Ryman LeBeau claimed Noem showed up at the meeting with cameras to use it for “her agenda,” Indian Country Today reported.

LeBeau expressed concern over Noem’s comments at two town hall events after she slammed tribal leaders for profiting from drug dealers.  

“We’ve got some tribal leaders that I believe are personally benefitting from the cartels being there and that’s why they attack me every day,” Noem said at a town hall in Winner, S.D., earlier this month The Associated Press reported.

Alli Moran, the tribe’s intergovernmental affairs officer, told The Hill that several tribes “share the same sentiments” that Noem does not respect or “fully understand” tribal sovereignty.

“That’s the reason why we’re banning her is because she doesn’t respect or uphold tribal sovereignty and her comments … that she made down in Winner, South Dakota at the town hall, but those are her sentiments and her thoughts of our people,” Moran said. “And so … to protect our people, we went ahead and moved forward with these measures.”

Days later, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe banned Noem as well, citing her “racially charged” comments.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe straddles the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. According to audio shared with The Hill, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Frank Jamerson said South Dakota members of the council are upset with the vote to ban Noem.

At least five members of the South Dakota delegation were excused from the vote and two others voted no on the measure. Six members from North Dakota on the council voted with one South Dakota member to ban the governor from the reservation, the audio shows.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Janet Alkire said in a statement Wednesday that Noem’s attempt to link tribes with the Mexican cartel was “irresponsible” and a “sad reflection of her fear-based politics that do nothing to bring people together to solve problems.”

Alkire declined to comment further when reached over the phone.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe became the fourth tribal nation to ban the governor from its land Thursday.

In a release, reported by the South Dakota Searchlight, officials said the ban is justified not only because of her recent comments, but her relationships with tribes since taking office.

“Governor Noem claims she wants to establish meaningful relationships with Tribes to improve solutions for systemic problems,” the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said. “However, her actions as Governor blatantly show otherwise.”

Noem doubles down on border comments

Noem argued that the tribes are one of the communities most affected by the surge in migrants.

In an emailed statement to The Hill, she doubled down on her comments, urging tribal leaders to “immediately banish the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for murders, rapes, drug addiction, and many more crimes on tribal lands.”

“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,” her statement reads. “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?’” she added.

Noem said regardless of the bans, she will take action to increase public safety on reservations.

In a video posted on social media platform X, Noem announced Thursday that she was offering a “history-making opportunity” to the state’s tribes by creating a law enforcement training course that will take place over the summer.

She said the program won’t “address every single challenge, but this training is a crucial first step towards addressing public safety issues in our tribal communities.”

Noem said in her statement that she is also asking for help at the federal level. She urged the Biden administration to fund tribal law enforcement and creating agreements for law enforcement and highway patrol to “help enforce tribal law on their reservations.”

The governor said “hundreds of concerned tribal members” have reached out and thanked her for her efforts.

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “South Dakota tribes boot Noem: Get the scoop!”
  1. As a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, I fully support our decision to ban Gov. Noem from our lands. Her inflammatory remarks and actions only serve to sow division and harm the communities she is supposed to represent. It’s time for her to take responsibility for her words and the impact they have on indigenous peoples and immigrants.

  2. Do you think Gov. Kristi Noem’s remarks on immigration and crime warrant the bans imposed by the South Dakota tribes? What impact do you believe this will have on the relationship between the governor and the tribal nations?

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