S.D. governor disputes information in Cheyenne River Sioux chairman’s letter

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem disagreed Monday with how Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier described what led to the traffic checkpoints he’s put in place on US 212 across the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota.

Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Darryl LaCounte sent a letter Friday saying Frazier needed to consult with the State of South Dakota.

Frazier wrote back Sunday challenging LaCounte.

The governor and several top members of her administration stayed clear and didn’t respond Sunday to questions about the matter from KELOLAND News.

During a briefing Monday for news reporters on COVID-19, Noem disputed several of Frazier’s claims in the letter.

“We’re working with the (U.S.) Department of the Interior, the BIA and the (U.S.) Department of Justice on the issue. It’s not accurate to say that Cheyenne River consulted with the State of South Dakota before they set up these checkpoints. That simply was not true,” she told reporters. 

“It did indicate in that letter that they should be working with us… We stand there ready to have conversations, but that is not something the tribe has engaged in. We’re sending a letter back clarifying some of that misinformation and making sure that they know we’re willing to be a part of the solution.” 

Meanwhile the South Dakota Department of Transportation on its 511 traveler-information system continued showing ‘disturbances’ Monday evening at checkpoint locations on highways SD 20, US 212, and SD 34 in the area of the Cheyenne River reservation; and on highways SD 44 and US 18 in the area of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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