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Noem Demands Tribes Remove Coronavirus Highway Checkpoints; Sovereign Lakota Leaders Decline

Governor Kristi Noem is demanding that our Lakota neighbors stop taking coronavirus so seriously:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday told tribes to take down road checkpoints they had set up to keep out unnecessary visitors because of concerns over the coronavirus.

The Republican governor said she would take legal action if the tribes didn’t remove the checkpoints in 48 hours. Two tribes — the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe — set up the checkpoints last month in an attempt to lock down their reservations amid fears infections could decimate members. The move sets up a potential legal showdown between a governor who has avoided sweeping stay-at-home orders and tribes that assert their sovereign rights allow them to control who comes on reservations.

The tribes have taken stronger action than the state because they are concerned the virus could overwhelm fragile health care systems that serve many people with underlying health problems. They are still allowing essential businesses on to the reservations and said the checkpoints were set up to keep out tourists or other visitors who could be carrying coronavirus infections [Stephen Groves, “Noem Tells Tribes to Open Roads, Calls Smithfield Workers,” AP via Madison Daily Leader, 2020.05.08].

Since today is not a good day to die from coronavirus, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner is saying, No way, Kristi:

…Bear Runner, in a statement read Saturday on a video broadcast via the tribe’s Facebook page, said the tribe had to take reasonable steps to protect its members “due to the lack of judgment and planning of preventative measures” by the state, and he called Noem’s legal threat an insult.

“We have not closed any non-tribal roads or highways, and it is not our intent to restrict access to any non-tribal roads or highways,” he said.

Both tribes have taken much more significant steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 among their members, compared to Gov. Noem’s more hands-off statewide approach, where she’s generally called on people and businesses to take personal responsibility for social distancing.

“We demand you to respect our sovereignty. Your threats of legal action is not helpful and do not intimidate us,” Bear Runner said. “The only way we can get through this is to work together as a nation” [Jeremy Fugleberg, “South Dakota Tribes Reject Noem’s Legal Threat over COVID-19 Checkpoints: ‘We Will Not Apologize for Being an Island of Safety’,” AgWeek, 2020.05.09].

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier similarly declined to facilitate Noem’s reckless Trump-pandering:

Many have been inconvenienced by the current situation but the virus does not differentiate between members and non-members. It obligates us to protect everyone on the reservation regardless of political distinctions. We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death.

Article 16 of the Ft. Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 by your government and our respected ancestors dictates the following, “stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same.”

I absolutely agree that we need to work together during this time of crisis, however you continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation. Ignorant statements and fiery rhetoric encourage individuals already under stress from this situation to carry out irrational actions.

We invite you to join us in protecting the lives of our people and those that live on this reservation. I regretfully decline your request. I stand with our elder Councilman Ed Widow that the purpose of our actions is to, “save lives rather than save face” [Chairman Harold Frazier, press statement as printed by, 2020.05.08].

Having two large chunks of South Dakota enforce stricter pandemic control measures and report notably lower rates of infection than the paler parts of the state upends Noem’s effort to say that her hands-off wish-it-away approach to coronavirus works well. But how Governor Noem would bring the tribes in line with her preferred ideology and force the removal of tribal checkpoints from roads on reservation territory is unknown. In a conference call with legislators on May 5, Governor Noem herself appeared to concede that she does not have jurisdiction over the tribal checkpoints… or at least that’s how Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-16/Canton) summarized her statement:

Travel restrictions on the reservations is handled by the Department of Justice because the state does not have jurisdiction. We are still trying to maintain supply lines but really can’t affect how the checkpoints and citations are being handled [Rep. Kevin Jensen, FB post, 2020.05.05].

If Noem does try taking the tribes to federal court, she will find herself relying on the same argument that tribes have used against her favored Keystone XL pipeline and her pro-pipeline anti-protest legislation, that she did not receive the consultation she thinks she deserves from the tribes over activities taking place outside of her sovereign jurisdiction. How does that feel, Kristi?


  1. Kari 2020-05-10 08:02

    Threatening indigenous with disease is so 1880’s.
    I look forward to the tribes suing her into outer space.

  2. Loren 2020-05-10 09:18

    So, Kristi’s policy was to not have a policy, leave things to individuals. Well, individuals made a decision and she doesn’t like it. This has become the GOP, head spinning reversals and hypocrisy!

  3. Nix 2020-05-10 09:19

    SILENCE !!!!
    The Dope Queen of Delusion has spoken!!!!

    Pay no attention to the lady behind the curtain.

  4. jerry 2020-05-10 09:59

    South Dakota DOT fails us all in that it does not give information on its website regarding the checkpoints on either of the reservations. By not notifying travelers of the checkpoints, NOem once again, proves she is incapable of the job and should be removed and replaced by actual leaders like Chairman Harold Frazier, a man who actually has a plan.

    NOem seems to be busy playing marbles with rabbit turds while our citizens sicken and die due to her incompetency. Someone in Pierre, please put a mirror in front of her to gaze upon herself so she will just STF up. NOem has done quite enough damage to all our citizens without endangering tribal folks any more than they already are.

    Chairman Frazier already proved his point that his system is working with the findings of a Covid19 infected person and then alerting NOem of the location of where that person was infected…rignt in NOem’s own backyard.

  5. Scott 2020-05-10 10:15

    We stand with all Native Americans. It is there Sovereign Land to protect as they see fit.

  6. grudznick 2020-05-10 10:30

    You don’t see illegal checkpoints on this map, Mr. jerry? Are you sure you know where these reservations are?

  7. mike from iowa 2020-05-10 10:49

    Noem is, either: A) on Meth
    B) still on Meth,or
    C) both

  8. Tim 2020-05-10 10:53

    I have been thru those checkpoints several times down there working, they really are no big deal, you tell them your business and move on. I commend the tribes for trying the best they can to protect their people, it’s to bad our Trump wanna be governor won’t do the same for us.

  9. Buckobear 2020-05-10 10:54

    Putting a mirror in front of her won’t help. Dracula can’t see his reflection, why should kristi?

  10. Kari 2020-05-10 11:28

    Tim – Great info thank you!

  11. Mike Livingston 2020-05-10 11:35

    Considering the DC swamp is saturating the creatures with covid-19 it will be sooner rather than later that some of swamp dwellers will slither this way, say around the last week of June when the orange compulsive liar and entourage of Trumppeons and defenders of the oligarchy gather to mock the Shrine of Democracy.
    I have been trying to wrap my head around how one equates a rapidly rising infection count, body count and a dismal attempt to do testing, with a statement like we are doing a great job of managing the Pandemic.
    This isn’t the first time that we palefaces have brought disease to the indigenous and they have every reason to take action to protect them. I support their efforts and encourage others to do the same. If this action slows down traffic on SD Hwy. 12, US 212 and SD Hwy18 it will be a small price to pay if it saves one life.
    Mike Livingston, Midland SD.

  12. 96Tears 2020-05-10 14:52

    After Noem excluded input from the tribes on her unconstitutional anti-protester bill, I can understand Chairman Frazier’s reluctance to cooperate with a jerk.

  13. jerry 2020-05-10 14:59

    I did not see this safe travel map, marking legal traffic safety measures. Thanks to you Mr. grudznick!

  14. jerry 2020-05-10 15:12

    Queen NOem : Magic Mirror, on the wall, who, now, is the fairest one of all?

    Magic Mirror : Over the seven jeweled hills, beyond the seventh fall, in the lodges of the Seven Tribes, dwell the Sioux, fairest of them all.

    With this revelation from the Magic Mirror, NOem try’s to put on the Fox war paint of fake outrage, only to find that her skin is too greasy from the poison product of the Keystone XL to stick. All of this causes her to go back to the nether regions from where she came, the very bowels of the SDGOP. NOem is a one term sycophant that has preventable blood on her hands.

  15. Debbo 2020-05-10 18:07

    “due to the lack of judgment and planning of preventative measures” by the state.”
    Good one, Mr. Bear Runner. Place the blame squarely where it belongs.

    Notice how Mr. Frazier as well sounds much like a leader faithfully doing his job, putting the people he is responsible for before his own needs or wants? Compare their statements with the blatherings of Kruel Kristi.

    Sad. Very sad.

  16. Farrell Eagleman 2020-05-10 20:33

    Today while watching MSNBC, AM Joy a news segment was aired with Chairmen Frazier and former Senator Dorgan from North Dakota. I watched carefully to what the questions were said. I especially waited to heard the response from Chairmen Frazier, He was forthright is his response to the comments from the Governor. He spoke with dignity and respect. The Senator asserted the tribes right to exercise it sovereign right to protect it residents. Noem has been the focus of several media outlets for her lack of leadership. She push for Gump’s oops trumps’s cure medication. Where is the death count at over 80,000. Over 1.2 million confirmed cases. I think she has applied to much makeup in her luxury makeup coop. BTW, all paid by us taxpayers. Time to remove her.

  17. SuperSweet 2020-05-10 20:36

    Not to worry. She has the attorney general behind her.

  18. grudznick 2020-05-10 20:38

    Looks like Mr. Frazier’s cars are all in the shop. He’s had to borrow decommissioned Dewey county mounty cars. And the Sheriff of Dewey has had to take to the blogs to make it clear he is not helping with the blockades.

    Some, but not grudznick, think the state highways should be moved, and leave the blockades right where they are.

  19. jerry 2020-05-10 21:13

    Queen NOem says she is gonna sue the Sioux. That is so Donald of the fakey Queen NOem.

    “The governor’s office says it will sue the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes if they don’t take down their COVID-19 prevention checkpoints on state and federal highways.

    These checkpoints “are not legal, and if they don’t come down, the state will take the matter to federal court,” Maggie Seidel, senior adviser to Gov. Kristi Noem, said in a Sunday email.

    Noem said in a Friday news release and letters to the tribes that the state will take “necessary legal action,” if the checkpoints don’t come down in the next 48 hours but she did not specify what she meant by “legal action.” Rapid City Journal 5.10.2020

    Queen NOem will undoubtedly use part of the $1.25 BILLION to give the attorney general and Marty Jackley some walking around money. Queen NOem is a bad joke.

  20. grudznick 2020-05-10 21:52

    Mr. Jerry, is righter than right. These blockades on state and federal highways might be something the state has to spend some of that covid-bug money on. The blockades, one might argue, were caused by the covid-bugs and the costs of the national guard swarm teams could probably be paid with those dollar bills. As the bugs get in more brains, there will be more ill-tempered actions that might required a well-funded militia.

  21. Jon H 2020-05-10 21:57

    Well, today CEOs were asked to remove masks before meeting with Mike Pence in Iowa. At the same time staffers for Pence wearing gloves and masks took the temperature of people who entered the building.

    The one thing that might unite and protect the American people Trump has managed to create division.

    I guess maybe it’s time for him to take his game of Russian roulette to the next level. Bring on the Trump Rallies. Maybe he should have a couple a week to show what a man he is.

  22. Debbo 2020-05-10 22:38

    I wonder if Doddering Doofus is afraid of rallies at the same time that he salivates for them? I wouldn’t be surprised if the setting is a little different when he does resume rallies. Perhaps a little more distance? Barriers? Of course he’ll blame the Secret Service or something like that, not his quaking, shriveled and hardened little heart.

  23. grudznick 2020-05-10 22:45

    The more mass gatherings we have, the faster the covid bugs burn through all of us. It is science. It is time to put the pedal to the metal and rip this sticky bandage off. Let Mr. Trump have his rallys and let the libbies mass at Woodstock re-enactments.

  24. Jon H 2020-05-10 23:26

    Well, Noem is getting national attention.
    Interesting that when common sense is obviously being used compassionately and effectively for their people and the Governor who has the worst approval rating for her response to the virus in the country is trying to force people that obviously are doing the right thing to yield to her ineffective response.

  25. Korey Jackson 2020-05-11 06:19

    I appreciate the goal: keep the tribe safe and healthy. They have significant and legitimate challenges to that end.

    How long does the CRST intend to keep their checkpoints on SRs and US Highways operating?

    Until drivers and passengers can display appropriate immunizations on shot records?

    Why should a car from Granite Falls, Minnesota, enroute to Belle Fourche, be turned around; while a car with a 5, 18, or 57 prefix on their SD plates be allowed to transit the Cheyenne River Reservation?

    Is turning around transiting out-of-state vehicles (perhaps American citizens seeking work) in conflict with Americans‘ individual rights to freedom of movement, or in conflict with the 14th Amendment?

    How do the CSRT Police legally enforce the directive? What happens if an out-of-state vehicle driver, who displays no symptoms of infection, refuses to comply with a turn-around order?

  26. Richard Schriever 2020-05-11 06:35

    Korey Jackson – I don’t believe there are any “turn around” orders. There are “you cannot stop anywhere along the way” or “you cannot go off the highway” orders. Tribal police have FULL LEGAL authority to enforce tribal law on their lands. Or are you questioning how local police in general can enforce city ordinances – for example?

  27. KOREY JACKSON 2020-05-11 07:32

    Richard Schriever – Reference
    Which states: “No proof of residency or CRST Travel Permit: Turn them around or tell them to go another router around the Rez.”

    Their words, not mine.

    Regarding tribal police powers: They have the “authority to exercise criminal jurisdiction over all tribal members and the authority to arrest and detain non-Indians for delivery to state or federal authorities for prosecution. These tribal police powers are generally limited to tribal lands.”

  28. jerry 2020-05-11 10:03

    “Individuals in cars from out-of-state or from hotspots who are NOT residents of the reservation or who DO NOT have a Travel Permit will be asked to turn around and take an alternate route around the reservation.”

    You must get a TRAVEL PERMIT if you’re a non resident. So if you’re coming from Granite Falls (nice area) and are going to wherever, you must go through the checkpoint, state your business and then you, the driver can decide if you want a TRAVEL PERMIT or just turn around and find another route. This is not rocket science people, it’s protection for all.

  29. Jean Farlee 2020-05-11 10:16

    We got a permit and used it last week as I had a eye appointment in Rapid City at the Eye Institute for my macular degeneration. We didn’t have a bit of trouble. They wanted to know where we were going and were we sick. On the way home they asked where we had been and were we around anyone who was sick. And by the way, the governors office is lying when they say that they let Indian people go through and only stop white people. I am white and I’m glad that the tribe is doing this. The tribally owned grocery store also is has strict rules about how many they let in the store at a time and everyone must wear a mask. I’m glad for all of the rules. Makes me feel safer.

  30. bearcreekbat 2020-05-11 10:52

    This is an interesting legal dilemma. Two SCOTUS cases seem to be relevant and might offer some guidance. Both deal with vehicle checkpoints instituted by public officials.

    First, it appears settled that sobriety checkpoints do not violate the 4th Amendment’s probable cause requirement and can be used by law enforcement to check for possible impaired drivers and that no individual suspicion or probable cause is required to stop cars at a major checkpoint. See, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990).

    In contrast, despite all the public hoopla about the public and societal danger of illegal drugs, the SCOTUS has ruled that drug interdiction checkpoints violate the 4th Amendment and are not permissible under the 4th Amendment absent individualized suspicion or probable cause. See, City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000)

    In Edmond, however, the Court pointed out that officials may use roadblocks for situations in which the search is designed to serve special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, i.e., situations unrelated to criminal law enforcement.

    The Fourth Amendment requires that searches and seizures be reasonable. A search or seizure is ordinarily unreasonable in the absence of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. Chandler v. Miller, . . . While such suspicion is not an “irreducible” component of reasonableness, Martinez-Fuerte, . . . , we have recognized only limited circumstances in which the usual rule does not apply. For example, we have upheld certain regimes of suspicionless searches where the program was designed to serve “special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement.” See, e. g., Vernonia School Dist. J,7J v. Acton, . . . (random drug testing of student athletes); Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, . . . (drug tests for United States Customs Service employees seeking transfer or promotion to certain positions); Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Assn., . . . (drug and alcohol tests for railway employees involved in train accidents or found to be in violation of particular safety regulations). We have also allowed searches for certain administrative purposes without particularized suspicion of misconduct, provided that those searches are appropriately limited. See, e. g., New York v. Burger, . . . (warrantless administrative inspection of premises of “closely regulated” business); Michigan v. Tyler, . . . (administrative inspection of fire-damaged premises to determine cause of blaze); Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco, . . . (administrative inspection to ensure compliance with city housing code).

    We have also upheld brief, suspicionless seizures of motorists at a fixed Border Patrol checkpoint designed to intercept illegal aliens, Martinez-Fuerte,. . . and at a sobriety checkpoint aimed at removing drunk drivers from the road, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, . . . In addition, in Delaware v. Prouse, . . . we suggested that a similar type of roadblock with the purpose of verifying drivers’ licenses and vehicle registrations would be permissible. . . .

    There may well be another exception for checkpoints aimed at stopping the spread of contagious illnesses, which is presumably the Tribe’s rationale here.

    Still, due process of law limits the power of the government to interfere with an individual’s liberty and freedom of movement. An Emory legal analysis states that the need to protect society can justify a government enforced quarantine, which is what the roadblocks presumably seek to do in appropriate cases – quarantine infected individuals from entering tribal lands, if the following criteria is satisfied:

    For any quarantine, the government must show (1) a public health necessity, (2) an intervention that is both effective and demonstrates a reasonable connection between means and ends, (3) proportionality (i.e., that the intervention is neither too broadly nor too narrowly tailored), and (4) that the quarantine or isolation is in the least restrictive setting while accomplishing its purpose. 25


    Here, it would seem that the State will likely claim the Tribe has failed to satisfy these requirements (assuming for the sake of the discussion that the State even has legal “standing” required to challenge the Tribe, or that such a claim is within the jurisdiction of the State, which are additional legal hurdles in the case).

  31. mike from iowa 2020-05-21 16:35

    Loser Noem has called in the cavalry from DC to take care of them pesky Indians.

    She went whining to drumpf. Watch out for drone strikes and MOABs to rain down on the heathens.

    Bury her butt on Fox Tee Vee!

    On second thought, if the most worthless negotiator of all times gets involved, the good guys might end up with nukes and all of South Dakota for their own, again.

  32. jerry 2020-05-21 16:58

    It would be interesting to know who and why they were blocked from entering the Cheyenne River Reservation. Maybe a car load of sick, blanket carrying white men from Tallahassee.

  33. mike from iowa 2020-05-21 17:58

    s, that some people have been blocked from entering the reservations.

    Haven’t some people been blocked from moving to South Duhkota because they be brown color?

  34. Chris S. 2020-05-21 18:05

    So if Rodeo Barbie gets her way on this, does that mean sobriety checkpoints are prohibited on highways on the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and D-Days? Public safety checkpoints are no longer allowed?

    If so, will she be bringing in the feds for that too, or is it just tribal law enforcement she has a problem with?

  35. jerry 2020-05-21 18:13

    Chris S, that is a valid point. Queen NOem just wants to try to pick a fight because that is what Lewandowski told her to do. Like King Covid, she has doggie doo doo on her shoes and she needs to change the subject. Nothing better than fighting a racial undertone.

  36. mike from iowa 2020-05-21 18:31

    For wasicu gubmints, sobriety checkpoints are legal, even if police tactics aren’t.

  37. jerry 2020-05-21 18:49

    Ah, Keystone XL, the nuts and bolts of Queen NOem’s campaign.

    “Gov. Kristi Noem said Thursday that it’s important to gain legal clarity on tribes’ COVID-19 checkpoints because allowing them during the pandemic could set “a precedent for that to happen far into the future in many other situations as well.”

    But she did not answer whether a future situation she’s concerned about is tribes blocking vehicles involved in the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.” Rapid City Journal 5.21.20

  38. Debbo 2020-05-21 23:01

    The Roger Cornelius Memorial Cartoon by Marty Two Bulls.

    This fits exactly with the topic of this post and the cartoon is BRILLIANT! 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

  39. Richard Peterson 2020-05-22 06:21

    My wife and I were stopped at a tribal checkpoint south of Interior on Hwy 44. They asked a few questions and we went on our way. If people just consider what diseases brought to the Americas by Europeans have done to the native people since Columbus – they might realize why the tribes have good reason to ask questions of people entering the reservations during this pandemic.

  40. Kari 2020-05-22 09:45

    Chris S – Can I cite your comment? That is brilliant.
    Debbo – that is great!

  41. Chris S. 2020-05-22 12:15

    Kari: Go ahead. I’m sure I’m not the only person who noticed Kristi’s, er, inconsistency. I almost felt like I was pointing out the obvious.

  42. mike from iowa 2020-05-22 14:27

    Brilliant cartoon, Debbo. Wonder where Noem’s Little Bighorn is at? And when?

  43. Debbo 2020-05-24 17:35

    Dunno Mike. Hard to tell how many dead South Dakotans it will take because so many are diehard members of COVID Killer’s Cult.

    (See what I did there?)

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