Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe lawsuit against federal government regarding checkpoints

Local News

CHEYENNE RIVER RESERVATION, S.D. (KELO) — The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is hoping to take federal government officials, including President Donald Trump to court. This comes after the tribe filed a lawsuit earlier this week.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe established checkpoints on roads into the reservation to screen people for COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Nikki Ducheneaux with Big Fire Law says the Tribe is suing federal officials for allegedly abusing federal authority in forcing checkpoints to be shutdown.

“That has included: threatening our individual checkpoint monitors, saying that they are committing a crime, they are not. Threatening our life saving CARES Act funding, which was suggested by somebody way up high in the White House, Mr. Mark Meadows. And then finally, threatening our law enforcement functions, and that ultimately is what this lawsuit is about,” Ducheneaux said.

Chairman Harold Frazier said in an interview with KELOLAND last month that the reason why the checkpoints were started at the beginning April was because of the lack of health services on the reservation.

“We realized in what we’ve been learning is about how to contain a virus. Number one, you got to track it, isolate it and try to keep it contained. So we thought these checkpoints would be a good tool, and it is a good tool to monitor and track. We know that this virus does not travel, it’s the people who have the virus that travel,” Chairman Frazier said.

Ducheneaux says past infections like smallpox in the early 1900s and a tuberculosis outbreak in 2013 hit the reservation hard. Ducheneaux says the Tribe has learned how important it is to slow the spread of illnesses.

“The law is clear that we have a right to enforce reasonable civil laws, even as to non-members when it affects our health and safety. And that’s clear under Supreme Court precedent and precisely what we are doing in our checkpoints,” Ducheneaux said.

Since the outbreak started, there has been one positive COVID-19 case on the Cheyenne River Reservation and no deaths due to the virus.

KELOLAND News contacted Gov. Kristi Noem’s office for a response, but did not hear back in time for this newscast.

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