Upset with Noem, tribes balk at flying flags in Pierre

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- Tribal support for the governor appears to be flagging.

At least six of South Dakota's nine tribal governments are rebuking Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., over the Keystone XL Pipeline legislation she ushered through the Legislature.

In late February Noem told tribal leaders during Tribal Relations Day in Pierre that she wanted to hang each tribe's flag in the seat of the state government.

The state will "ensure that every single one of our tribal flags will be displayed here in the Capitol's Rotunda," she said then.

The move was widely cheered in Indian Country as a gesture of conciliation from the new governor.

"I heard that she plans on making the tribal flags a permanent display here in the Capitol and that's awesome," Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said at the time. "It's something that's truly needed and I thank the governor for doing that."

But a week later Noem introduced two pipeline bills designed to cover any significant law enforcement costs that could arise from handling expected protests to the pipeline that is proposed to pass through the state.

Tribal leaders panned the new laws saying they weren't consulted and that they might hinder peaceful protest. Now at least six tribes say they don't want their flags flying in the capitol.

"The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe stands in support of our relatives of the Sioux Nation," said Remi Bald Eagle from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. "And we do not desire to place our flag in your capitol until such a time as that place becomes our Capitol as well."

The governor has offered no comment on the flag flap other than to say she plans to reach out to tribal leadership.