Noem: Tribes’ checkpoints dispute not just about coronavirus

South Dakota News

FILE – In this Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe leaves federal court in Washington. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem appeared headed Monday, May 11, 2020, for a legal confrontation with two Native American Indian tribes over highway checkpoints intended to keep the coronavirus away from their reservations. Both tribes said over the weekend the checkpoints would stand on their reservations. “We will not apologize for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death,” Frazier said in a statement. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says that her stance against Native American tribes operating coronavirus checkpoints on federal and state highways isn’t just about the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Its also about setting “precedent” on tribes’ ability to shut down traffic in other situations.

As construction related to the Keystone XL pipeline begins in South Dakota, the checkpoints add tension to an already-rocky relationship between the Republican governor and tribes that have been outspoken opponents of the pipeline.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, which has set up coronavirus checkpoints, does not allow vehicles from oil companies to pass through their land.

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