PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Motorists traveling on several highways in western South Dakota are now being advised they face checkpoints at the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian reservations.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation has put portable message boards in place.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are checking traffic to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading on their reservations.
There are differing versions circulating about how motorists have been treated and whether they’ve been allowed to enter without travel paperwork.
The message boards are at key locations.
For the Pine Ridge reservation, SDDOT placed the portable devices at these spots:
In Kadoka, at the junction of SD73 and SD248 junction, for travelers southbound on SD73;
Twenty miles south of Kadoka, at the junction of SD44 and SD 73, for travelers westbound on SD44; and
In Martin, approximately 500 feet west of the traffic signal on US18, for travelers westbound on US18.
For the Cheyenne River reservation, SDDOT put the boards at these locations:
Junction of SD34 and SD73, for travelers in that area; and
Junction of SD73 and US212, for travelers in that area.
Governor Kristi Noem issued a 48-hour notice Friday telling the two tribes to take down the checkpoints on state and federal highways or face legal action. She instead sent a letter Tuesday to OST President Julian Bear Runner and CRST Chairman Harold Frazier suggesting they should take down those checkpoints but could run checkpoints on BIA roads.
Noem told news reporters Tuesday afternoon she recognized that federal enforcement would be necessary.
Asked by KELOLAND News Tuesday whether there had been discussions with the state DOT about advisory signs for motorists, Noem replied, “No, we haven’t considered putting up any kind of warning system or using the DOT to let travelers know that would be checkpoints ahead. Obviously we have every extra resource focused on COVID-19 in the state of South Dakota, and DOT has been incredibly helpful to us as well in responding to extra duties and responsibilities. The capacity to do that, with as many checkpoints as are out there, would be something that I would wonder if we even have the ability to do.”
The South Dakota Department of Transportation on its 511 traveler-information system meanwhile was still showing ‘disturbance’ areas Thursday morning at 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 reservation.