S.D. agencies working on plan to advise Sturgis rally visitors about tribal traffic checkpoints

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Motorcycle

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Several state government departments are assembling information about tribal traffic checkpoints for people traveling across South Dakota to the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

The Department of Transportation and the Department of Tourism are working on the project. The 2020 rally officially runs Friday, August 7, through Sunday, August 16.

An estimated 490,000 people visited the community of about 6,600 during the 2019 rally. It is unclear, because of COVID-19, how many could attend this year.

Since about April, the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Oglala Sioux tribes, because of COVID-19, have operated traffic checkpoints on several state and federal highways that cross their reservations.

State Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist briefed members of the South Dakota Transportation Commission on Thursday.

Bergquist said the checkpoints continue to be “a struggle” for travelers, in part because there hasn’t been consistency in how they’re run.

He said the two departments are working on a plan to post roadside signs and spread the word.

Depending on the location and the tribal members staffing them, checkpoint activities range from taking temperatures and asking a few questions, to telling drivers who don’t have official business they must turn around.

“Each of the checkpoints has operated a little differently and sometimes that changes,” Bergquist said.

Special maps created by SDDOT show checkpoint locations.

They are on US 212, SD 20 and SD 63 on the Cheyenne River Reservation.

But SD 34 — the main route from Pierre to Sturgis — is open.

On the Pine Ridge Reservation, checkpoints are shown on US 18, SD 44 and SD 40.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a federal lawsuit last month against U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration on the checkpoints issue.

Federal officials were acting at the request of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who has been unsuccessful in attempts to have the checkpoints moved from the state and federal highways.

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