Gov Noem seeks fed help in resolving COVID tribal checkpoint issue

PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - Gov. Kristi Noem and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have not come to terms over COVID-19 checkpoints the tribe established on state and federal roads.

Guards ask drivers questions about their health at the travel checkpoint on the Pine Ridge Reservation earlier in May. (KOTA)

After negotiations appeared to have stalled, the governor said she directed the state attorney general to investigate the "unlawful" checkpoints.

"That investigation, while it is still ongoing, has produced both affidavits and video recordings of these unlawful checkpoints that are in place," Noem claimed.

Information from that investigation has been forwarded to the White House, Department of Justice, the Interior Department and South Dakota's congressional delegation. Noem says she has asked for their assistance in resolving the issue.

"The state," Noem stressed, "is committed to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 ad committed to protecting the public health of our tribes and every single citizen in the state."

Cheyenne River Sioux spokesman Remi Bald Eagle says the tribal government was unaware of the investigation's existence or findings, but that Noem is more than welcome to communicate with the federal government.

Bald Eagle says the checkpoints remain up.