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Pine Ridge Tribe Takes Drastic Step in Response to Governor’s Statements

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The Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota has banned Republican Governor Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation. The decision follows Governor Noem’s recent remarks about deploying razor wire and security personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border and alleging cartel infiltration on the state’s reservations.

In a statement issued on Friday, Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out declared, “Due to the safety of the Oyate, effective immediately, you are hereby banished from the homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!” “Oyate” refers to the people or nation.

Accusing Noem of exploiting border issues for political gains, Star Comes Out asserted that the Governor’s statements were aimed at supporting the re-election of former President Donald Trump and enhancing her chances of becoming his running mate.

Expressing concern for Indigenous individuals arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, Star Comes Out emphasized that many come from places like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, seeking employment and a better life. He criticized the idea of using razor wire and detaining people, stating, “They don’t need to be put in cages, separated from their children like during the Trump Administration, or be cut up by razor wire furnished by, of all places, South Dakota.”

The tribal leader also addressed Noem’s comments on the Ghost Dancers gang, allegedly affiliated with border-crossing cartels. Star Comes Out took offense at the reference, highlighting the sacred nature of the Ghost Dance ceremony in Oglala Sioux tradition. He deemed Noem’s remarks disrespectful and insulting to the Oyate.

Asserting the tribe’s sovereignty, Star Comes Out emphasized that it does not belong to the state of South Dakota. This banishment underscores the deep divide between the tribal leadership and the state government.

Governor Noem responded to the banishment on Saturday, expressing regret that President Star Comes Out injected politics into discussions about federal government enforcement at the southern border and on tribal lands. Noem emphasized her commitment to addressing these issues and building relationships.

In her statement, Noem referenced a meeting with bipartisan Native American legislators earlier in the week, stating, “I am not the one with a stiff arm, here. You can’t build relationships if you don’t spend time together.” She expressed readiness to collaborate with any Native American tribes in the state to foster a better relationship.

This recent development adds a new layer to the already complex relationship between the state and tribal authorities. President Star Comes Out’s decision to banish Governor Noem reflects a strong stance against what the tribe perceives as disrespectful and harmful remarks.

In November, President Star Comes Out declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation due to rising crime. The federal government’s treaty duty to support law enforcement on the reservation became a focal point last year, with a judge ruling on the duty but not the sought-after funding level.

Governor Noem has a history of deploying National Guard troops to the Mexican border, a move also made by several other Republican governors. In 2021, she faced criticism for accepting a $1 million donation from a Republican donor to offset the cost of deploying troops to the border.

As this story unfolds, it raises questions about the dynamics between state officials and tribal leaders, highlighting the challenges in addressing complex issues like border security and crime on reservations.

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