South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem listens to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairwoman Janet Alkire, unseen, during a tribal flags ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D.

South Dakota Tribe Bans Governor From Reservation Over US-Mexico Border Remarks

Trisha Ahmed READ TIME: 2 MIN.

A South Dakota tribe has banned Republican Gov. Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she spoke this week about wanting to send razor wire and security personnel to Texas to help deter immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and also said cartels are infiltrating the state's reservations.

"Due to the safety of the Oyate, effective immediately, you are hereby Banished from the homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!" Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out said in a Friday statement addressed to Noem. "Oyate" is a word for people or nation.

Star Comes Out accused Noem of trying to use the border issue to help get former U.S. President Donald Trump re-elected and boost her chances of becoming his running mate.

Many of those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are Indigenous people from places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico who come "in search of jobs and a better life," the tribal leader added.

"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," he said.

Star Comes Out also addressed Noem's remarks in the speech to lawmakers Wednesday in which she said a gang calling itself the Ghost Dancers is murdering people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is affiliated with border-crossing cartels that use South Dakota reservations to spread drugs throughout the Midwest.

Star Comes Out said he took deep offense at her reference, saying the Ghost Dance is one of the Oglala Sioux's "most sacred ceremonies," "was used with blatant disrespect and is insulting to our Oyate."

He added that the tribe is a sovereign nation and does not belong to the state of South Dakota.

Noem responded Saturday in a statement, saying, "It is unfortunate that President (Star) Comes Out chose to bring politics into a discussion regarding the effects of our federal government's failure to enforce federal laws at the southern border and on tribal lands. My focus continues to be on working together to solve those problems."

"As I told bipartisan Native American legislators earlier this week, 'I am not the one with a stiff arm, here. You can't build relationships if you don't spend time together,'" she added. "I stand ready to work with any of our state's Native American tribes to build such a relationship."

In November, Star Comes Out declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation due to increasing crime. A judge ruled last year that the federal government has a treaty duty to support law enforcement on the reservation, but he declined to rule on the funding level the tribe sought.

Noem has deployed National Guard troops to the Mexican border three times, as have some other Republican governors.

In 2021 she drew criticism for accepting a $1 million donation from a Republican donor to help cover the cost of a two-month deployment of 48 troops there.


Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

by Trisha Ahmed

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