CHEYENNE RIVER RESERVATION, S.D. (KELO) — This week Gov. Kristi Noem asked the Attorney General to investigate after the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe refused to remove checkpoints on state and federal highways.
She has now given the Attorney General’s findings to the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Interior, and South Dakota’s Congressional delegation, and is asking for their assistance.
Chairman Harold Frazier says the reservation will continue its checkpoints regardless of Governor Noem’s actions.
“She can do what she thinks best but no matter what they do or what strategies they do, we’re still going to be here. We are still going to be doing what we think is right for our people because this is all we have,” Chairman Frazier said.
Frazier says he was surprised to hear the news that Governor Noem was reaching out to multiple US agencies.
“We can’t just look at this situation in a virus, in a pandemic. If we allow checkpoints to shut down traffic in this situation then we are setting precedent for that to happen far into the future in many other situations as well,” Governor Kristi Noem said.
“It’s just almost unbelievable because at what point are we going to put the health of peoples’ lives up on the forefront and right now we don’t have the resources to deal with this pandemic or we don’t have resources medically if this was to ever hit our land and get out of control,” Chairmain Frazier said.
The nearest critical care to the Cheyenne River Reservation is nearly three hours away in Rapid City. So far, Frazier says there has only been one positive COVID-19 test result on the reservation and that patient has recovered.
“That virus doesn’t travel on its own, it’s the people with the virus that travel. And learning about viruses and things like that and how you have to try to contain it, isolate it, that’s one way to have control. And we don’t ever want to be in a position where we don’t have control of it,” Chairman Frazier said.
The Chairman says the tribe plans to continue the checkpoints. He doesn’t foresee removing them anytime soon.
“We’re not doing this to hurt people, it’s to save lives,” Chairman Frazier said.
The checkpoints began towards the beginning of April and have been up and running since.
When drivers stop at the checkpoint to go through the Cheyenne River Reservation, officers will check to see if they have a permit and screened at the window with questions.