South Dakota Tribes Ban Gov. Kristi Noem Following Controversial Remarks on Drug Trade

In response to controversial statements made by Governor Kristi Noem regarding alleged drug trafficking on reservations, three additional Native American tribes in South Dakota have banned her from their lands. This brings the total number of tribal reservations banning Noem to seven.

Controversial Remarks and Tribal Responses

According to the Associated Press, the tribes reacted strongly to Noem’s comments suggesting that reservations are havens for drug dealers and that some tribal leaders benefit from the presence of cartels. Noem stated at a forum, “We’ve got some tribal leaders that I believe are personally benefiting from the cartels being there, and that’s why they attack me every day. But I’m going to fight for the people who actually live in those situations, who call me and text me every day and say, ‘Please, dear governor, please come help us in Pine Ridge. We are scared.'”

The rift between Noem and the tribes in her state continues to deepen. Noem posted a video on X of Chris Hansen investigating fentanyl trade, which included footage from Native American reservations in South Dakota. She urged tribal leaders to take action against the cartels and accept her offer to restore law and order while respecting their sovereignty.

Tribal Bans and Their Impact

The Oglala, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Sioux tribes had already banned Noem. Last week, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (SWO) tribe joined them. These bans cover nearly 17% of South Dakota’s land, totaling 13,057 square miles. The Pine Ridge Reservation (Oglala Lakota) covers 3,469 square miles, the Cheyenne River Reservation spans 4,267 square miles, a portion of the Standing Rock Reservation covers 2,530 square miles, the Lake Traverse Reservation (Sisseton Wahpeton) occupies about 1,400 square miles, and the Rosebud Reservation covers 1,391 square miles.

Recently, the Yankton Sioux Tribe also voted to ban Noem from their land in southeastern South Dakota. With nine tribal reservations in the state, only a few remaining tribes have not yet banned her.

Historical Tensions and Recent Conflicts

This isn’t the first clash between Noem and the tribes. In 2016, during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, and again during the COVID-19 pandemic when tribes set up checkpoints to keep out unnecessary visitors, tensions flared. In 2019, Noem was temporarily banned from the Oglala Sioux reservation following a protest dispute.

The relationship between South Dakota’s Native American communities and the state has long been fraught, dating back to the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, where hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children were killed by U.S. soldiers.

Political Implications and Public Backlash

Noem’s remarks have sparked significant backlash and could impact her political career. She was considered a potential Vice Presidential running mate for Donald Trump, but this controversy may change that. Political observer Cal Jillson noted that Noem appears to be “stoking it actively, which suggests that she sees a political benefit.”

Further controversy arose from a passage in Noem’s new book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward,” where she recounted shooting her puppy for being untrainable. This revelation sparked public outrage. Noem defended her actions, stating, “We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm.”


Governor Kristi Noem’s recent comments and actions have led to significant controversy and tension with nearly all Native American reservations in South Dakota, bringing her under intense public scrutiny once again.


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