PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem was sworn into office for a second term Saturday in a ceremony that sought to emphasize unity with tribal people and was highlighted by a often-humorous top 10 list of things that surprised her during her first term.
“I love the challenge of serving in this role,” Noem told a rotunda audience. “I have the best boss — the people of South Dakota.”
Wearing a white suit, Noem was introduced by a freshman legislator, Representative Joe Donnell, a Republican and a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe.
“It’s been a great journey knowing the governor,” Donnell said. “I’m proud to call you my friend.” He recalled speaking to Noem during her 2018 campaign for the seat. “It was at the time a couple months before the general election, and the race was kind of close at that time. But the message God gave me was that Kristi Noem would be our next governor.”
Said Noem, “There is serious work we need to do in the next four years.”
Her secretary of tribal relations, former Sisseton-Wahpeton chairman David Flute, wore a headdress as he gave a prayer in his native language. Afterward, he presented Pendleton blankets and beaded medallions that were placed around the necks of Noem and Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden.
“Every day is a good day, but today is an especially good day, and today is a very good day for our state of South Dakota,” Flute said.
During her first term, Noem was met with frosty relations at times from several of South Dakota’s tribal governments, including for her largely hands-off policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislation was passed in the 2021 session to add flags of the nine tribal governments to the Capitol rotunda with the permission of each tribal government, but none yet hang there.
The Republican governor was the first in a line of statewide officers who took their oaths from South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Jensen on Saturday. She was followed by Lieutenant Governor Rhoden, Secretary of State Monae Johnson, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Auditor Rich Sattgast, Treasurer Josh Haeder, School and Public Lands Commissioner Brock Greenfield and Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson. All are Republicans.
Noem told the gathering that her first term was marked by storms, policy fights and the pandemic. She said South Dakota’s economy currently is the strongest in decades. Then she turned to her top 10 list of things that surprised her during the first term.
At number 10: “People care where I am.”
Number 9: “I can wear jeans if I want to.”
Number 8: “Diversity of high school mascot names throughout our history.”
Number 7: “How quickly decisions can be implemented.”
Number 6: How inspiring she found state employees for their hard work and dedication.
Number 5: “No naps. I was promised some naps. I still haven’t gotten one.”
Number 4: “I was shocked by all the items people will mail to me at the office and our home every week.” They ranged from a Wonder Woman cutout with a photo of Noem’s face pasted on it, to a whip made of bull testicles.
Number 3: “I haven’t had time to go elk hunting.”
Number 2: “No one cares if you’re the governor when you’re tubing at the lake.”
Number 1: “How much I love this job.”
Noem won re-election in November, taking 62% of the vote against Democrat Jamie Smith and Libertarian Tracey Quint.
You can read the governor’s prepared remarks here.