Governor Noem Faces Extensive Ban from Sioux Tribes’ Territory Amid Controversy

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe has joined four other Sioux tribes this year in prohibiting South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from entering their territory, extending the ban to more than 16% of South Dakota’s area and over 90% of the state’s tribal lands.

The Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal Council passed a resolution on Tuesday barring Noem from the Lake Traverse Reservation in the state’s northeast. This action aligns with similar bans by the Oglala, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock, and Rosebud Sioux tribes, collectively encompassing about 13,000 square miles of South Dakota’s total area of 77,116 square miles.

Chairman J. Garrett Renville of the Sisseton Tribe explained that the resolution reflects the sentiments of the people. He indicated that while the tribe remains open to future communication with Noem, she will remain barred from Sisseton lands until she takes substantial steps to mend the relationship.

“The people at this time would like that in place until there was a formal apology,” Renville stated in an interview with local station KELO.

The ban stems from derogatory comments made by Noem about tribal families. According to the resolution, Noem’s statements and actions have harmed tribal parents, undermining the value of their children’s education.

During a town hall event in March where she was signing education bills into law, Noem criticized tribal leaders and parents, characterizing them as lazy and uncommitted to their children’s educational success.

“My next step would be to do what I can to get a tribe to participate with me to help their kids be more successful,” Noem remarked. “Because they live with 80 percent to 90 percent unemployment. Their kids don’t have any hope. They don’t have parents who show up and help them. They have a tribal council or a president who focuses on a political agenda more than they care about actually helping somebody’s life look better.”

Noem also made claims about Mexican drug cartels operating on South Dakota’s Native reservations, suggesting they benefited some tribal leaders. This led to condemnation from the Oglala, Rosebud, and Cheyenne River tribes, who eventually banned her in April, joined later by the Standing Rock tribe.

Chase Iron Eyes, director of the Lakota Law Project, noted to The Daily Beast that Noem is now barred from approximately 16% of all land in South Dakota, given that Sioux tribes collectively claim 17% of the state’s land.

“If you look at a map, she basically has to stay on the interstate,” Iron Eyes remarked.