"The flag of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe will not be displayed in a Capitol that does not respect our people”
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
Chairman Lester Thompson Jr. of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe speaks out regarding the disrespect displayed towards his Tribe and the Tribes of South Dakota by Governor Noem and the current legislature.
"The Flag of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe will not be displayed in the South Dakota State Capitol until Governor Kristi Noem and the legislature respect our people, shared history, and traditions" stated Chairman Lester Thompson, Jr. of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
The Chairman further stated, "Over the past year, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has worked to build a new relationship with the State of South Dakota through initiatives to establish open access to traditional lands in the State Park system to Memorandum's of Understanding (MOU) between our law enforcement agencies to ensure safety at public events and to stop the illegal transport of goods and people. Building trust is not easy, as state officers previously at Standing Rock were now, with the Tribe's support, working alongside tribal officers at our annual Pow Wow. Yet, this MOU was a success and a hopeful step in reestablishing respect between the State and our Tribe. However, in the past month, the actions of Governor Noem and the State Legislature, have destroyed our trust and the hopeful advancement toward reconciliation.
On February 22, the Senate Committee on State Affairs voted down a Resolution to Congress asking that the South Dakota Delegation introduce legislation to Repeal the Dakota Removal Act of 1863 (SCR 10), an outdated and offensive law that established our Reservation as a prison for the Dakota peoples removed by force from the State of Minnesota. In 2009, Minnesota had already passed a similar Resolution. WITHOUT DISCUSSION AND WITHOUT ANY OPPOSITION, the Senate Committee on State Affairs dismissed the resolution and refused to offer any explanation for their vote.
Then on March 4, 2019, less than one week after Governor Kristi Noem stated plans to display the flags of the South Dakota's nine tribal nations at the State Capitol rotunda "as a sign of unity and working together with the tribes to create policies for the next generation," the Governor went back on her words. Without consultation with a single Tribe and during the last week of Session, Governor Noem introduced two bills, through a Suspension of the Rules, by dropping surprise legislation, Senate Bills 189 and 190, intended to intimidate protestors and suppress the right to speak out against the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, limiting our right to free speech and assembly in protection of our water and land.
Governor Noem deliberately omitted Tribal Nations from any consultation or discussions over these bills. Instead, she held private sessions with TransCanada and a multitude of other stakeholders including state legislators.
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe had high expectations for Governor Noem to continue building our relationship with the State, after all she is the first governor in decades to come from Congress where she directly worked with the nine tribes that share the geography with South Dakota on sovereignty issues. We had high hopes when she selected former Sisseton Tribal Chairman David Flute as her Secretary of Tribal Relations. However, our high expectations have been met with disappointment and disrespect. It is said that an Eagle Staff must be straight to show strength, it is clear now that the Eagle Staff currently displayed in the State Capitol has become bent under the burden of continual attacks.
Our Flag will be proudly flown where it is respected, and it is my hope that someday the State will earn that Respect from our Tribe and all the Tribes native to this land.”
About the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is located on the Missouri River 60 miles southeast of Pierre and is inside Buffalo County, South Dakota. The people of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe are mostly descendants of the Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe of the south and central Minnesota, who settled on the reservation after exile from their native lands in Minnesota following the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota.