Rounds says federal officials unlikely to get involved in tribal checkpoints

WASHINGTON, D.C. (DRG News) – There’s still no agreement between two Native American tribes and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem over checkpoints the tribes have put up along state and federal highways leading through their reservations.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe established the checkpoints as a way to reduce the chances of tribal members being exposed to COVID-19.

Noem has asked South Dakota’s U.S. Congressional delegation and federal officials to step in, but Senator Mike Rounds says that’s not likely to happen.

The treaties granting the tribes sovereignty are with federal officials, which may seem like the disagreement needs to be settled at the national level. But, Rounds says this is between the tribes and the state.

Rounds does think an agreement can be reached.

The tribes set up the checkpoints in April to keep visitors off the reservations.

Noem says her stance against the tribes operating coronavirus checkpoints on federal and state highways isn’t just about the response to the pandemic. It’s also about setting “precedent” on tribes’ ability to shut down traffic in other situations.