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Sioux Nations Take a Righteous Stand Against Anti-Science Christian Fascist Governor of South Dakota

By Coco Das



An important stand-off is happening in South Dakota, where Governor Kristi Noem, the “Sarah Palin of the Prairie,” has demanded that the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations take down checkpoints on state highways ON tribal land or face a lawsuit. The checkpoints are designed to protect the 30,000 residents of these two reservations from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated other Native communities. They temporarily ban non-residents from hunting or fishing on the land, issue health questionnaires to people coming and going, and impose some travel restrictions for non-essential activities. They have not stopped any “state or commercial functions.”

If there were to be a COVID-19 outbreak on these reservations, they would have few hospital beds, personnel, or equipment to deal with it. Their best chance of avoiding such a catastrophe is to limit contact with and exposure to potentially infected people and quickly quarantine people who might bring the disease in from outside their borders. To allow the virus to take hold on these reservations would be a genocidal death sentence.

In her letter to the Sioux leaders, Noem complained that the two reservations did not follow the legal parameters set by the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, which stated in a memo that the tribes could temporarily close roads after reaching an agreement with the state government on “the parameters of the temporary road closure or restrictions.” In a statement oozing with condescension and hypocrisy, Noem said, “We are strongest when we work together; this includes our battle against COVID-19.”

Noem is a key representative of the Christian fascist movement. When she was a Tea Party-aligned U.S. representative, Noem said she believed she was ordained by god to proselytize while she worked on policy. As governor, she called for a day of prayer in “solemn mourning and pleas to heaven,” to protest “the unspeakable crime of abortion,” and last year signed into law five new abortion restrictions. She has coined the phrase “riot-boosting” to attempt to criminalize protest against the Keystone Pipeline on Native land. In her refusal to issue stay-at-home orders, she said it was up to individuals to decide whether to “exercise their right to work, to worship, and to play.” Consequently, the disease was allowed to spread to thousands and infected hundreds of workers at the Smithfield Foods Plant. Noem parroted Trump’s peddling of the drug Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment with no scientific evidence.

Both tribes have been righteously defiant of Governor Noem. Cheyenne River Chairman Harold Frazier wrote in a news release, “…you continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation.”  Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner has also refused to take down the checkpoints and said, “The Oglala band is ready to stand against foreign intrusions in our daily lives. We have a prior, superior right to make our own laws and be governed by them.”

Kristi Noem’s threats against the sovereign borders of the Sioux nations cannot be separated from the ugly history of disease and genocide and American “Manifest Destiny” that is one of the roots of this 21st Century American fascism. European colonizers brought diseases such as small pox, measles, influenza, and bubonic plague, which decimated indigenous populations. While Trump and his regime go on about building the wall and respecting “our” borders, the struggle of the South Dakota Sioux nations to institute their own health protocols reminds us that this country was founded on genocide and the violating of borders on this continent and beyond.

Reportedly, Noem has asked the federal government to intervene. So far, the Trump/Pence regime has not taken a position on this stand-off, but we should remain alert to the developments, and write statements of support for the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes as they take a rational and scientific stand to protect their communities from the un-scientific, theocratic and white supremacist fascism of Kristi Noem.

Oglala Lakota enforce border checkpoints after threat from South Dakota State Governor. Source:




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