In the on-going public health checkpoint saga, Governor Kristi Noem sent yet another letter today to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier in which she proposes a plan “that respects tribal sovereignty, federal law and state sovereignty as well.”
The governor said it was desire her work together cooperatively in confronting the coronavirus pandemic with “science and facts”.
In her first point of her proposed plan, Noem wrote that there will be no tribal checkpoints on US/State Highways.
“No one entering or traveling on a US or State highway will be stopped or impeded. This traffic is otherwise passing through the reservation and tribal interaction with these travelers at checkpoints is unlawful and could actually increase the risk of spreading the virus on the reservation.”
The governor did not elaborate on why she believes the checkpoints would increase COVID-19 cases on CRST.
In her second point, Noem stated that checkpoints on Tribal/BIA roads are “acceptable” and that she understands and supports the Chairman’s “desire to protect your people, and it is within your tribal sovereignty to establish checkpoints on BIA/tribal roads. To be clear, the state has no objection to tribal checkpoints on BIA/Tribal roads.”
She continued, “This means that anyone turning off a US or State Highway for a destination within your reservation could be subject to a tribal checkpoint.”
Lastly, Noem said that the State requests for reasonable tribal checkpoint accommodations.
“If you decide to operate tribal checkpoints on BIA/tribal roads, the State of South Dakota is asking you to make reasonable accommodations for the good of your own people. This would include access for all people to permit emergency services, delivery of food, emergency and medical supplies, and access to private property within the reservation.”
The Tribe maintains that all emergency services are unimpeded and that commercial and delivery traffic is allowed through the checkpoints. Agriculture and ranching are considered essential businesses and there are 30, 60, and 90-day permits available for all residents, tribal and non-tribal members.
“I ask that you immediately adjust your policies as they apply to the public entering or traveling through your reservation on US/State Highways…let’s talk about how we can work together…,” said Noem.
Chairman Frazier has yet to release a statement to today’s letter. West River Eagle will update as more information becomes available.