Gov. Noem hopeful an agreement can be made with tribes on checkpoints issue


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Secretary of Tribal Relations Dave Flute joined South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem at a COVID-19 briefing to address the state’s concerns with checkpoints set up by tribes.

On Friday, Noem sent a letter to the leaders of two tribes saying they need to remove checkpoints set up along U.S. and state highways. She wrote the state would pursue legal action if the checkpoints were not removed in 48 hours.

After a brief statement in his native language on Tuesday, Flute stressed the importance of communication during the coronavirus pandemic and thanked Malsam-Rysdon for the conversations she’s had with the tribes.

Flute says he did hear of problems with checkpoints for tribal members and non-tribal members. Flute says a conference call was set up with Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe on April 18 to discuss the checkpoints, but Frazier declined the invitation.

Noem says the state is hopeful there can be agreement on the checkpoints moving forward. She says they are looking for clarification on the issue. Noem says her concern is being able to get needed supplies to people through the checkpoints.

Noem sent another letter to Frazier on Tuesday and she’s hoping for a response soon. The governor says there is no legal action is being taken at the moment.

Flute says the state has reached out to Oglala Sioux Tribe President as well. He says communication is important and both parties need to be at the table for discussions.

On Twitter early Tuesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe shared news that there are two positive COVID-19 cases among tribal nation members.

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the cases shared by Oglala Sioux Tribe were not reported to the state by 5 p.m. on Monday, which is why the case numbers in Oglala Lakota County didn’t change on Tuesday. She says she expects those numbers will be reported by Wednesday.

The Department of Health is going to start offering personal protective equipment to the medical community across South Dakota. Malsam-Rysdon says the state has seen some easing of the supply chain for PPE, so it is offering N95 masks and surgical masks to health care providers. She says help from the state will be limited so that the state can maintain what it needs as part of the COVID-19 response.

Maslam-Rysdon says that the PPE the state is sending out was provided by FEMA, so there will not be a charge to the health care providers who need it.

Governor Noem says 200 businesses in South Dakota have received one of the state’s business loans, worth a total of $10.5 million.

Noem says the 114th Fighter Wing will do a flyover on May 16 to honor health care workers. Details on the event are still in the works.

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