Sioux tribes refuse to take down coronavirus checkpoints after GOP governor threatens legal action

Sioux tribes refuse to take down coronavirus checkpoints after GOP governor threatens legal action
Image via Screengrab.

In South Dakota, Sioux tribes have set up highway checkpoints in the hope of preventing the spread of coronavirus on their reservations — and Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, has demanded that the checkpoints be removed. But Sioux leaders are fighting back.


In a letter on Sunday, May 10, Maggie Seidel (Noem’s policy director), told members of the Oglala Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, “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.” But Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier is not backing down.

Frazier told CNN, “We want to ensure that people coming from 'hot spots' or highly infected areas, we ask them to go around our land…. With the lack of resources we have medically, this is our best tool we have right now to try to prevent (the spread of COVID-19).”

In her letter, Seidel asserted that it is “unlawful to interrupt the flow of traffic on these roads.” But Frazier has maintained that his top priority is “protecting the lives of our people and those that live on this reservation.”

MSNBC’s Joy Reid clearly sided with Frazier’s position when he appeared on her show, “AM Joy,” on May 10 — asserting that Noem was endangering the lives of Native Americans by interfering with the checkpoints. Frazier told Reid, “We have every legal right to do what we’re doing. In the past history, and time after time, the lack of adequate health care for our people — we just don’t really have the resources to combat this virus once it gets into our lands. Right now, the main tool we have at this point is prevention.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.