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Seven Native American Tribes Have Banned Kristi Noem From Entering Their Lands

Noem talked down to Native American parents in the state, and falsely accused tribes of harboring Mexican cartels.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem looks on as she testifies during a House Agriculture hearing at the Longworth House Office Building on March 20, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in central South Dakota announced this week that it would bar Republican Gov. Kristi Noem following a series of inept government actions and disrespectful comments she made toward Native Americans.

The vote on Tuesday marks the seventh time a tribe in the state that has barred Noem from entry to enter their lands. Only two tribes haven’t issued similar bans, though at least one of those two is considering it.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe listed several grievances with Noem, including comments in March in which she said that Native American children in the state “don’t have any hope” because they “don’t have parents who show up and help them.” The tribe also took issue with Noem’s “failure to act” during the last two years of winter storms, which led to nine deaths on the Rosebud Reservation alone in the 2022-23 season. She has also accused the tribes of harboring undocumented immigrants, including Mexican drug cartels, on their lands, claiming without evidence that “some tribal leaders” were “personally benefiting” from them.

“We do not have cartels on the reservations. We have cartel products, like guns and drugs. But they pass over state highways getting to the reservation,” Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Chairman Peter Lengkeek said to NPR, following the vote. “So, putting us all together like that and saying that all tribes are involved in this really shows to the ignorance of the governor’s office.”

“The people voted unanimously to ban her along with the tribal council for her derogatory remarks about the tribes and cartels, and about the remarks she made about the children being nobodies their whole lives because of the parents,” said tribal council member Kyle Loudner, speaking to The Dakota Scout about the vote.

Noem’s comments against the tribes in her state reflect a Trumpian rhetoric, with which she is attempting to sound “tough” on issues of immigration while also issuing xenophobic statements against nonwhite people. Racism in the state, particularly against Native Americans, has been a consistent problem both during and before Noem’s tenure.

Up until a few weeks ago, before revelations about unnecessarily killing a dog and other pets were included in her recently published autobiography, Noem was considered a short-list contender to become former President Donald Trump’s 2024 vice presidential running mate.

The likelihood of her nomination is now very small, given how she has refused to apologize for admitting to killing pets and has actually doubled down on trying to justify it, despite widespread condemnation.

Trump partially came to Noem’s defense, saying in reaction to those reports, “We all have bad weeks.”