South Dakota governor appeals to White House for help in ending checkpoint showdown with tribes

Posted 12 days ago


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has turned to the White House in an attempt to resolve a stalemate between the state and tribal leaders over COVID-19 checkpoints on state and federal highways.

Noem sent a letter on Thursday to President Trump arguing that Cheyenne River and Oglala Sioux Tribes are operating “unlawful tribal checkpoints” and requesting that the Department of Justice step in.

“We've been working for weeks to find a solution to the tribal checkpoints issue that respects both tribal and state sovereignty while following federal law,” Noem tweeted on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, the tribes have continued to operate checkpoints on State and US highways.”

The tribes set up the checkpoints last month to keep uninvited visitors off the reservations and limit the number of cars that pass through in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Rapid City Journal reported. The virus had infected nearly 4,100 people in South Dakota as of May 19, according to tribal leaders, and that includes about 260 Native Americans, according to the Argus Leader.

Earlier this month, Noem threatened to sue the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe if they did not remove highway stops within 48 hours. She backed away from that plan last week, offering to negotiate on the issue if they would ta... (Read more)