State Watch

South Dakota governor threatens legal action if Native American tribes don’t remove coronavirus checkpoints

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Friday told the state’s Native American tribes to take down their coronavirus checkpoints along state and U.S. highways within 48 hours or face legal action.

The Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have put up traffic checkpoints to monitor highway traffic and contain the spread of COVID-19, according to South Dakota Public Radio (SDPR). The tribes closed their borders as soon as they detected their first case. 

In April, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs warned that tribes could not put up checkpoints unless they consulted the state. According to SDPR, the tribal and state governments have not reached an agreement. 

“We are strongest when we work together; this includes our battle against COVID-19,” Noem said in a statement. “I request that the tribes immediately cease interfering with or regulating traffic on US and State Highways and remove all travel checkpoints.”

Leaders of both tribes told SDPR they do not plan to comply with the governor’s orders and said her requests lack legal merit.

As of Saturday afternoon, the South Dakota Department of Health has reported 1,234 cases of COVID-19 and 34 deaths.

Tags Indigenous peoples of North America Kristi Noem Kristi Noem South Dakota
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