Cheyenne River Sioux Nation Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier responds to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's threat regarding COVID-19 checkpoints
Indigenous Environmental Network
The following is a statement from Cheyenne River Sioux Nation Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier:
The English definition of consultation is a meeting with an expert professional, such as a medical doctor, in order to seek advice." In the Lakota language, wóglakA means to speak about something." In meeting with county commissioners, municipal, South Dakota Department of Transportation, Public schools and Federal agencies we have met the definition of consultation in both of our languages.
We have continuously worked with the county commissioners and municipal leaders to ensure all members and nonmember issues have been addressed. We have not stopped any state or commercial functions as you claim in your request.
Many have been inconvenienced by the current situation but the virus does not differentiate between members and non-members. It obligates us to protect everyone on the reservation regardless of political distinctions. We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death.
Article 16 of the Ft. Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 by your government and our respected ancestors dictates the following. " stipulates and agrees that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same."
I absolutely agree that we need to work together during this time of crisis, however you continue to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation. Ignorant statements and fiery rhetoric encourage individuals already under stress from this situation to carry out irrational actions.
We invite you to join us in protecting the lives of our people and those that live on this reservation. I regretfully decline your request. I stand with our elder Councilman Ed Widow that the purpose of our actions is to. "save lives rather than save face."