Press Release: Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Banishes South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from Reservation

Date: 04/09/2024

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Banishes South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from Reservation

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Joins the Oglala and Cheyenne River Nations in Banning “Out-of-Touch” Noem from Tribal Lands

Quick Facts:

  1. Lakota Law Director Chase Iron Eyes says Governor Noem is seeking relevance but is now legally forbidden from accessing 10 percent of the lands within South Dakota.

  2. Tribal leaders say Noem’s series of racially-charged public comments disparaging Native children, parents and tribes are designed to advance her political ambitions.

  3. Noem’s words create a climate of division and fear, paving the way for violence and endangering Indigenous communities.

  4. Noem also has a personal financial stake in fossil fuel projects, often opposed by tribal governments and citizens.

  5. Banishment in Indian Country is a rare but serious form of punishment. Tribal institutions have the sovereign ability to adjudicate banishment resolutions passed by tribal councils.

FT. YATES, N.D., APRIL 10, 2024 — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has voted to banish South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from its reservation after recent, racially-charged public comments she made disparaging tribal communities in the state. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) joins two other Lakota tribes in prohibiting the Republican governor from their tribal lands.

“Governor Kristi Noem’s wild and irresponsible attempt to connect tribal leaders and parents with Mexican drug cartels is a sad reflection of her fear-based politics that do nothing to bring people together to solve problems,” said SRST Chairwoman Janet Alkire. “Rather than make uninformed and unsubstantiated claims, Noem should work with tribal leaders to increase funding and resources for tribal law enforcement and education.”

SRST joins the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) in banning Governor Noem from tribal lands after defamatory comments she made last month while signing two bills. At another event, she also disparaged Native American parents, who Noem said are to blame for poor performance in the state’s schools, and tribal leaders. Noem claimed that tribal leaders in the state allow the presence of murderous Mexican drug cartels, and that she wanted a full audit of tribal spending of federal dollars.

“It is with great disappointment that the Oglala Sioux Tribe once again has to respond to inflammatory and disparaging remarks about our reservation communities and tribal leadership made by Governor Kristi Noem,” said Oglala Sioux Tribal President Frank Star Comes Out in a press release on March 18. Star Comes Out also pointed out that the State’s high-trafficking area is in Sioux Falls, and not on tribal lands. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to banish Gov. Noem on February 5, 2024, for similar remarks she made toward tribal leaders ushering Mexican drug cartels.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Courts automatically upheld CRST’s council vote on March 27. CRST Chairman Ryman LeBeau said in a press release: “The South Dakota Governor speaks gossip and lies about our Lakota students, their parents, and our Tribal Councils. SD Governor's statements made on March 13th, 2024, perpetuate stereotypes, misconceptions, which are inaccurate and untrue. According to her Christianity, gossip is a sinful act. As South Dakota's Governor she does not know or understand our issues or successes of our Reservation schools and communities. The Governor is out of touch and auditioning for Trump's vice president for her own personal political gain.”

Five tribes — the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe — have demanded an apology from Noem. Noem has not issued a formal apology for her comments, and instead issued a statement on April 3 suggesting that tribes ban Mexican cartels from the reservations.

“Rather than embrace Noem’s politics of fear, we call on her to end her attempts to slander tribal leaders and parents,” Alkire said. “Noem should embrace the politics of truth and compassion. We remember who we are every day, and this is why we are a people rich in culture and history”

Banishment in Indian Country is a rare but serious form of punishment, according to the tribe. Tribal courts have the ability and mandate to uphold banishment resolutions passed by tribal councils. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 specifically states that non-Indians can be excluded from tribal lands by a tribe mentioned in the treaty. Once a person is banished, they have a right to be notified by mail or by an official assigned by the tribe at their known place of address, and then they have a right to appeal in tribal court. South Dakota does not have criminal jurisdiction on any of the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota, but it does own land in various parts of each reservation. The amount of property the state controls is unknown. South Dakota does not publish its trust land data, which must be obtained via a public records request.

“It’s not acceptable for Kristi Noem to lie repeatedly, stoke further division, and endanger the people of the sovereign nations which pre-exist the United States and South Dakota, which have illegally annexed and occupied sovereign territory of the Oceti Sakowin,” said Lakota People’s Law Project’s Director Chase Iron Eyes. “Noem is now prohibited from entering sovereign territory of Sioux bands and is subject to detention and/or removal if she violates banishment orders, meaning the state’s governor is barred from entering more than 10 percent of all land her state claims is within its ‘borders.’”

This isn’t the first time Governor Noem has been banished by a tribal council. “Noem has endangered tribes before,” Iron Eyes said. “She famously challenged tribal safety checkpoints during the height of the pandemic. And the Oglalas previously banished her when she targeted tribes and attempted to thwart legal First Amendment protests against the failed Keystone XL pipeline by passing a pair of so-called ‘riot-boosting’ bills in 2019.”

Those bills are indicative of Noem’s willingness to clash with tribes, tribal citizens, and allies who speak out against fossil fuel infrastructure projects proximate to tribal lands. A recent article from South Dakota Searchlight revealed her financial interest in one such project. But now, tribal leaders say, she has made it personal.

“Her remarks were made from ignorance and with the intention to fuel a racially based and discriminatory narrative towards the Native people of South Dakota,” Rosebud Sioux Tribal Chairman Scott Herman said in a press release on March 15. “We demand an apology from the governor.”

At the end of March, an uninvited Noem attended a scheduled sacred sites meeting in Rapid City with others from the Governor’s Office. She was not permitted to speak at the meeting, according to statements made by several tribal leaders. Both OST President Frank Star Comes Out and CRST Chairman Ryman LeBeau issued statements after last Friday’s meetings confirming that she did not speak, either at the meeting or with tribal leaders.

About the Lakota People’s Law Project

The Lakota People’s Law Project is dedicated to reversing the slow genocide of the Lakota People and destruction of their culture, the Lakota People’s Law Project partners with Native communities to protect sacred lands, safeguard human rights, promote sustainability, reunite Indigenous families, and much more.

Return to Blog