Noem’s message about illegal immigrants has re-exposed state’s centuries-old racial division

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas separate South Dakota and the U.S. border with Mexico. But Governor Kristi Noem’s April 14 tweet saying South Dakota won’t accept illegal immigrants was still stirring up people two days later.

The Lincoln County Democrats organization issued a statement Friday strongly disagreeing with the Republican governor, calling on Noem to retract the statement and issue a public apology to all migrant children and the citizens of South Dakota.

That came on the heels of a twice-defeated Republican legislative candidate responding on Twitter to a once-defeated Democrat candidate who had responded to a governor who hasn’t lost in seven general elections for state representative, U.S. representative and governor.

“We’re not on ‘your’ land. This is our land. The United States of America’s land,” Joel Koskan of Wood told Remi Bald Eagle, a spokesman for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the 2020 Democrat candidate for the state Public Utilities Commission.

Noem had hit a dead end last year when she tried but couldn’t force Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier to remove COVID-19 traffic checkpoints on state and federal highways leading into the reservation in western South Dakota.

Noem, who campaigned last year throughout the nation for the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump, has been on the attack in recent weeks against Democratic President Joe Biden. She tweeted Wednesday, “South Dakota won’t be taking any illegal immigrants that the Biden Administration wants to relocate. My message to illegal immigrants… call me when you’re an American.”

Bald Eagle responded that day, “I’m going to retweet this only to say you do not know how much this comment breaks my heart. You are on our land. It seems like our problem is love and your problem is hate.” He was referring to a 19th-century treaty with the U.S. government that designated all land west from the east bank of Missouri River as the Great Sioux Reservation, and to the fact that the Europeans had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to North America in the centuries before.

American Indians comprised about 9% of South Dakota’s estimated 2019 population of 884,659, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued a series of tweets Friday afternoon.

“I want to state clearly and unequivocally that the State of Wyoming will not participate in relocation or housing efforts of illegal immigrants or unaccompanied minors, and I have made our position clear to Federal officials,” Gordon stated.

He continued, “The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security has advised our office that they are not aware of any Federal immigration plans that include Wyoming. Along with other Republican governors, I will continue to actively monitor the situation and will respond as forcefully as needed.”

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