South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is now banned from all tribal lands in her home state

All of South Dakota’s nine indigenous tribes have voted to ban Gov. Kristi Noem from their lands.

On Tuesday, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe executive council ruled in favor of barring the Republican governor from its reservation.

In response to a request for comment on Wednesday, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe sent a readout of its president’s interactions with Noem ahead of the vote. Flandreau President Tony Reider called an emergency meeting last weekend in response to Noem’s comments, according to the readout. The meeting was “contentious at times, as some members vocalized their opposition.” After that Reider set up a meeting with the governor’s office, which took place on Monday. That conversation was “respectful and productive.”

“President Reider informed the governor that a ban from our territories is imminent and requested that the Governor refrain from making future blanket statements that offend the tribes within the boundaries of the State of South Dakota, some of which depend on state services for the needs of their people. It was recommended that the Governor clarify her statements and issue an apology to all tribal nations for the misunderstanding,” the readout said. “Until such a time, the Executive Council and the people of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe stand with our fellow nations.”

That vote bookended a ripple effect of tribes with reservations that stretch into South Dakota moving to prevent Noem from setting foot on their land, spurred by comments she made earlier this year. During a town hall, she argued that tribal leaders were profiting off of drug cartels in the state and prioritizing those cartels over parenting children on their reservations. Noem has since doubled down on saying Mexican drug cartels were rampant on Native American reservations in South Dakota.

Those comments sparked a domino effect of tribes denouncing Noem and voting to bar the governor from their lands. According to The Argus Leader of South Dakota, leaders of the Flandreau Santee Sioux had been receiving pressure from local citizens to do something in response to Noem’s comments.

In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, the governor did not directly address the ban, but said she hoped to work with tribal leaders going forward.

“I only want to speak truth to the real challenges that are being faced in some areas of Indian Country. I want to focus on solutions that lead to safer communities for all our families, educational outcomes for all our children, and declining addiction numbers for all our people. We cannot tackle these issues without addressing the problem: dangerous criminals who perpetuate violence and illegal activities in all areas of our state,” Noem said in the statement. “We need to take action. It is my hope tribal leadership will take the opportunity to work with me to be an example of how cooperation is better for all people rather than political attacks.”

Earlier in May, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe voted to bar Noem from reservation land. The Standing Rock Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux, Rosebud, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux and Lower Brule Sioux tribes all had similar votes earlier this year.

The votes came as Noem found herself in the national spotlight over anecdotes from her recently released book describing killing her 14-month-old wirehair pointer, named Cricket, and an unnamed goat. The book included anecdotes about Noem meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and cancelling a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. Noem and staff have since indicated that the Kim anecdote did not happen and should not have been in the book. French officials have denied any such meeting between Macron and the South Dakota governor, while she was a member of Congress, ever took place.

Before her book rollout, Noem’s name had been mentioned on the shortlist to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick in 2024. But her standing has faded.

Noem has not softened her rhetoric about tribes and Mexican cartels. Instead, she’s repeatedly stressed the importance of border security and warned that the Southern border between Texas and Mexico was experiencing an “invasion” of immigrants. Noem has scheduled press conference about border security and how it affects South Dakota.

“Banishing me does nothing to solve this problem or to help those who are suffering horrific tragedies,” Noem said in a statement from her office last week. “Yesterday, I returned home from the dangerous, deadly warzone at our nation’s Southern Border. South Dakota National Guard soldiers have helped the Texas National Guard construct miles of border wall in 100-degree weather to keep the American people safe – and keep cartel-driven drugs and human trafficking out of our great country.”

Over the last few months, Noem and other top South Dakota officials have announced new programs for tribal law enforcement. In April, Noem and state Attorney General Marty Jackley rolled out a certification program to help speed up training for local law enforcement. And earlier this month, Noem named Algin Young, previously the chief of police for the Pine Ridge Reservation, as South Dakota’s Tribal Law Enforcement Liaison.

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