The lawyer who goes to court to try establishing Governor Kristi Noem’s doctrine of subjecting tribal sovereignty to state authority will not be Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. Take heart, Indian-haters: Marty Jackley is on the job!
Jackley will not be carrying Noem’s feckless Trump-pandering threat to federal court. Instead, Jackley is representing Wayne Hepper of Kenel, who around 9:45 p.m. on April 8, stopped at the Cheyenne Sioux River Tribe checkpoint west of Dupree on U.S. Highway 212, was told by tribal checkers that he could not cross the reservation because he had North Dakota plates on his truck, and then drove on in defiance of the tribal authorities. He only stopped when Dewey County Deputy Sheriff Dan Assman caught up with him. Hepper now faces charges of eluding and failure to stop.
Jackley contends nobody has to take orders from Indian cops:
The person at the checkpoint was a tribal preservation officer, Steve Vance, who reportedly told Hepper he couldn’t enter the reservation because his truck had North Dakota license plates.
Hepper instead ignored that instruction and continued on US 212 past the checkpoint onto the reservation.
The preservation officer used a dual-axle pickup to follow Hepper on US 212 and called the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal police department for assistance.
Tribal Police Sergeant Terry Long Mandan joined the pursuit and tried to pull Hepper over. Meanwhile Dewey County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Assman deployed spike strips two to three miles ahead. Hepper stopped after passing the deputy’s vehicle. The deputy arrested Hepper.
Jackley said the allegation that Hepper was eluding a law enforcement officer should be dismissed, because the tribal sergeant doesn’t meet the state law’s definition of a state-certified law enforcement officer. Jackley said Hepper stopped when he saw the deputy’s vehicle [Bob Mercer, “Criminal Cases in S.D. Courts Will Test Legal Basis of Cheyenne River Sioux Checkpoints,” KELO-TV, 2020.05.26].
Jackley’s argument assumes that state law reigns supreme over tribal law and that tribes may not organize their own police forces to enforce their own laws on their own sovereign land.
Boy, first Jackley saves Governor Noem’s lieutenant from the scandal of drunken tomfoolery in the Senate, and now he saves her from the embarrassment of Jason Ravnsborg stammering his way through some contrived and shallow court argument about state authority over sovereign tribal nations. After she beat him out of the Governorship in 2018, it’s awfully nice of Marty to keep saving Kristi’s political career.
Location, location? The news says Hepper is from Kenel, South Dakota. However, his White Pages listing shows no Kenel, just North Dakota addresses. He ran a Bismarck ranch when he was named North American Limousin Producer of the Year in 2015, and he applied for immigrant labor to come mind his cattle this year, he listed his hoped-for foreign help’s place of employment as Fort Yates, North Dakota. Hepper obviously has lots of ground to cover and can’t be troubled by Indian cops trying to keep their people safe from pandemic.