S.D. governor joins ’round dance’ with tribal members on the front lawn of the state Capitol

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two of South Dakota’s nine tribal governments officially participated Thursday in a private meeting and a traditional round-dance celebration that the state Department of Tribal Relations hosted for Governor Kristi Noem.

Under a bright sky, the Republican governor and Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith delivered short remarks to a lunch-hour gathering of a few hundred people on the Capitol front lawn.

“For years my family and I have attended tribal celebrations in so many of our communities throughout South Dakota. It’s a tremendous honor to host one here today,” Noem said.

David Flute, her secretary of tribal relations and a past chairman of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, organized the event.

The governor hosted Faith and Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk at the state mansion on Thursday morning.

In her public remarks, she said tribes are “a foundational part” of South Dakota’s history.

“It’s important that our students learn our true history. And that’s why tribal history will be a part of the civics initiative that was passed by the Legislature this year and that we’re working on right now,” Noem said.

As she made those comments, a protester held up a sign that read, “All these treaty rights and still not treated right.”

Noem was heckled throughout her speech by another man shouting into a bullhorn and carrying a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe flag down on the sidewalk next to Capitol Avenue. South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers stood atop the short wall between the concrete and grass as he exercised his First Amendment right to free speech.

The governor and Cheyenne Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier have been at odds over issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline, COVID-19 traffic checkpoints at state highway entrances to the reservation and, most recently, whether her administration consulted with his tribal government over a second year of Independence Day fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial that she has sued to get.

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