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South Dakota Sioux Won't Remove 'Illegal' Coronavirus Checkpoints

south dakota gov. kristi noem is shown speaking at a podium
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (James Nord/AP)

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2020 10:02 AM EDT

Sioux tribes in South Dakota say they are keeping coronavirus checkpoints active even though Gov. Kristi Noem said they were illegal and called for them to be removed.

Sioux leaders said the checkpoints they set up on roads that pass through their land are the only protection they have against keeping the virus from entering their reservations. They say they have limited healthcare facilities and they would not be able to handle a virus outbreak, BBC reports. 

Noem called out the “illegal” checkpoints on Friday. Her office issued an updated statement on Sunday, "The checkpoints on state and US highways are not legal, and if they don't come down, the state will take the matter to federal court, as Governor Noem noted in her Friday letter.”

Noem’s statements are directed at the Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes. 

Tribes need permission from state authorities if they want to restrict travel to their reservations. The checkpoints are only allowing people to enter for essential business if they have not traveled from a COVID-19 hotspot.

But tribe leaders are not backing down. 

Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe Harold Frazier said in a statement on Friday, "We will not apologise for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death.”

He said the governor is “continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate and seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation.”

Frazier told CNN the checkpoints are supposed to help monitor and track the virus. 

"We want to ensure that people coming from 'hotspots' or highly infected areas, we ask them to go around our land," he told CNN.

Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner said Noem's decision "threatened the sovereign interest of the Oglala people.” 

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Sioux tribes in South Dakota say they are keeping coronavirus checkpoints active even though Gov. Kristi Noem said they were illegal and called for them to be removed.
south dakota, sioux tribes
298
2020-02-11
Monday, 11 May 2020 10:02 AM
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