Two South Dakota state lawmakers sent a letter to Governor Kristi Noem asking her to consider a statewide mask mandate. They’re telling the governor they believe wearing a mask is not infringing on freedoms but rather it’s looking out for our neighbors.
Representative Peri Pourier and Senator Red Dawn Foster wrote and sent the letter dated November 19th because they believe the impact of the pandemic could be mitigated if all South Dakotans work together.
They feel it is important to let the governor know the impact of the pandemic not only on South Dakota’s reservations, but on the state as a whole.
“I am a US Navy veteran, and I know what it means to do something that you’re not a fan of, I know you override your personal individual desires to serve the greater good, so that’s the reason why we sent that letter, is that something needs to happen, and it’s affecting us across the state, but it’s very critical and we’re at a crisis in the Native American communities right now,” said Pourier.
Pourier says this is an issue of public health which surpasses political parties.
She says deaths have doubled on the Pine Ridge Reservation since November 1st.
In the letter to the governor, they compare wearing a mask to South Dakota’s smoke-free law or wearing a seat belt, or following the speed limit.
“Wearing a mask is not hard, we are also very big on freedom as a native people but it’s different from a frontier individual freedom, we believe that freedom is number one but we also know that sacrifice for the greater good is number one, the health and welfare of our people is the most important of it all,” Pourier said.
Both Foster and Pourier are Democrats who represent District 27 which includes Bennett, Haakon, Jackson, Oglala Lakota and Pennington Counties. They say they have not heard back from the governor, but are hopeful.
KELOLAND News reached out to Governor Noem’s office to get her thoughts on the letter.
We were told she was attending her grandmother’s funeral today and would not be available for an interview.