Noem meets tribal leaders on meth, law enforcement

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Kristi Noem Gov Photo

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem hosted a private meeting Monday with tribal-government leaders at the South Dakota Governor’s Residence, where they discussed ways to jointly work on methamphetamine prevention and law enforcement. 

Seven of the nine tribal governments with reservation lands in the state of South Dakota participated. Joining the governor were: 

Yankton Sioux Tribe Councilman Robert “Pete” Kazena, 

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, 

Oglala Sioux Tribe 5th Member Rick Gray Grass, 

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Councilman Francis Crawford, 

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Councilman Vince Dupris, 

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Councilman Frank White Bull, 

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Councilman Steve DeNoyer, 

State Department of Tribal Relations Secretary Dave Flute, 

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Chairman Boyd Gourneau, 

Yankton Sioux Tribe Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, 

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier, and 

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Councilwoman Sharon Swift. 

The governor’s office said the July 1 luncheon followed a May 20 summit that brought together state, federal, and tribal leaders to discuss meth prevention, enforcement and treatment. 

Noem said Tuesday she was “incredibly grateful” to the tribes that sent representatives. 

“Meth destroys families across South Dakota, but tribes are particularly impacted,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “It is critical that we work together to find ways to strengthen law enforcement, root out distributors, and protect kids – all while respecting tribal sovereignty.” 

She said the governments were “finding common ground on this issue” and she planned to continue the conversations in the months ahead. 

Flute, who previously was the top elected leader of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, said the Noem administration was “grateful” for ideas on ways to assist each other on the meth epidemic. 

“It is also a testament of our state and tribal leaders’ commitment towards improving public safety in all our communities,” the tribal relations secretary said. He added, “Together, I believe we can make a real difference on issues of mutual concern.” 

The meeting first came to public attention Tuesday morning after a Twitter post by the lieutenant governor. 

Noem, who took office January 5, faced criticism recently from some tribal leaders because of legislation she signed into law, sought by county governments, that would triple financial penalties against third parties who incite “riot boosting” during petroleum-pipeline protests. 

A companion piece established the state PEACE fund to pay extraordinary costs connected to pipeline development. A company is required to pay a bond of $1 million for every 10 miles of pipeline project, up to $20 million. 

County governments in South Dakota don’t want mass protests as happened in North Dakota over the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to ban Noem from the Pine Ridge reservation because of the new laws. Several tribal governments said they didn’t want their tribal flags to be hung in the Capitol rotunda. 

The Keystone XL pipeline is proposed to cross through western South Dakota carrying oil from Alberta, Canada, to a connecting point in Nebraska. 

All of Dakota Territory starting at the east bank of the Missouri River was originally designated by the U.S. government as the Great Sioux Nation. Much of western South Dakota now is privately owned and Keystone XL’s route avoids any current reservations. 

According to the state Public Utilities Commission, the 313-mile segment in South Dakota would cross portions of Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp counties. 

The proposed project also includes two pump stations in Harding and Tripp counties and one apiece in Meade, Haakon and Jones. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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