Both sides are ramping up the war of words and actions here in the Fifty States right now. Is this another “phony war” as Europe suffered at the beginning of WW2 80 years ago? Will this current game turn into actual fighting and violence?
Let me talk about near to home, in South Dakota:
The Lakota Times reports that tribal leaders demand COVID-19 protections for and from the State of South Dakota.
I am particularly incensed at Avis Little Eagle’s: “South Dakota is the state where this virus is so out of hand that there is no hope of controlling it. It’s going to just grow in that state because she [Noem] didn’t act.” That is just plain a lie, and Avis is too smart not to know it.
There are nine tribal nations in South Dakota: OST (Oglala Lakota Nation) has NO cases (since they kicked the one lady out – she’s recovered, I understand). RST (Rosebud Sioux – Oyate Sicangu) has two cases – both recovered, I think. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) has 2 (one each in Ziebach and Dewey Counties), SRST (Standing Rock Sioux Nation, where Avis is from) has 1 in Corson County and none on the ND side (there are two confirmed cases FROM SRST in ND, but neither of them were actually on the rez when they were diagnosed and while they are ill). There are NO reported cases in the Lower Brule or Crow Creek nations, and maybe 3 in the SD side of Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe’s land. And apparently none in the Yankton Sioux or the Flandreau Sioux lands (hard to be sure, as their boundaries don’t match county lines and South Dakota health districts.
But rationality is gone – and beating on Noem and Trump and anyone who is NOT a reincarnation of Chicken Little is in. I spoke to a friend who is trapped in CRST (his words not mine). He and his extended family have run out of basic supplies except for food. Toilet paper is selling in Eagle Butte for $20/4 rolls, no feminine hygiene products or even shampoo and conditioner available.
And like OST, CRST has border guards and checkpoints. If you leave the reservation and you do not have a PERMIT to do so (which takes 72 hours to obtain), you can NOT return to your home – even if you are an enrolled member. And even with a permit, if you go to Sioux Falls, Pierre, or Rapid City, you are under house arrest for 14 days when you return.
Even worse, he tells me that they have been told that only out-of-state vehicles can travel on the highways and only if they are escorted and promise not to stop for anything. Apparently SD-plated vehicles are required to turn around. That means that SD-34 is closed – the primary route from the Northern Hills to Pierre. And if you need to go from Faith or Lemmon to Mobridge or Aberdeen, you get to choose: all the way south to I-90 and across, or all the way to I-94 (Mandan) and across! That makes a 50-70 mile one-way trip into a 300-mile one-way trip.
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has told the CRST that they can’t just shut down state and federal highways, but the tribe is now claiming that South Dakota has NO jurisdiction and NO ownership of land inside the boundaries. Despite the claim by – and demand by – the tribal presidents that South Dakota MUST provide protection to the people in those very same areas. (You can read the letter exchange for yourself on KELO TV’s website.) Frazier (the CRST President) also said in a press release:
“SHOW US HOW THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA OWNS ANY LAND OR INTEREST ON THE CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX TRIBE RESERVATION AND I WILL SHOW YOU HOW THE STATE HAS VIOLATED THEIR COMPACT WITH THE UNITED STATES AND THE SECOND CONDITION OF THE ENABLING ACT OF 1889 AS WELL AS ARTICLE XXII OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES,” FRAZIER SAID. “This is a skeleton in the closet of the oppressors that needs to be fixed to be compliant with statehood much as less qualified to govern any land on our territory set aside by treaty.”
Governor Noem, by the way, states that not all of the information in the CRST letter is factual. She’s tactful, at least. (Of course, she is the most recognizable of the leaders of the Axis of Evil – the seven states who refused to Lockdown. And the most bitterly condemned, even by people of her own state who are fearful and panicked.)
I don’t know if the CRST border guards are armed like OST’s, but since OST claims they are all sworn and deputized police, they must be. Sooner or later, I fear someone will lose their temper or take offense and we will start ourselves another war. And we can imagine what the lockdown is doing to the suicide rate, especially of the young people. Tribal suicide rates in South Dakota have been incredibly high and going up in recent years, which worries a lot of us.
The people being punished, supposedly for their own good, in CRST and OST are the very tribal members and other people who live on the Rez. (Not all land inside the boundaries of the reservations is owned by the tribe, or even by enrolled members.) They are the ones who have to depend on “bootlegged” (again, my friend’s word, not my own) food and toilet paper and other essentials. And, as with other governments, state and local, the tribal governments are violating their own constitutions in denying tribal members and residents of their nations their God-given rights.
Some have suggested that the State (Noem) needs to send in National Guard troops (already activated on state duty) to reopen the highways. Perhaps they could also liberate the people and businesses, as well. Or, on the other hand, perhaps South Dakota should just ask for Federal troops – Regular Army – to deal with the internal tyrants which have risen up in our very midst.
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A little over a year ago many members of the Tribe at Eagle Butte were asking for the Regular Army to be sent in because of rampant drug (meth) trfficking and unsolved associated murders.
Indeed they were – just as today the tribal leadership in various places is calling on federal aid for other things – like forcing South Dakota’s (and North Dakota’s) governors to Lockdown the states to protect them. As well as filing lawsuits to demand “their fair share” of the stimulus umbrella money. Which is claimed to be due them due to treaty rights. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t really think that we should have a mechanized infantry battalion descend on South Dakota to open the highways (paid for with federal and state – NOT tribal or even BIA – money) across the Lakota nation’s boundaries. (Special forces, maybe, to arm and assist the resistance to the draconian rule of their councils and chairmen or presidents – in concert with all their old buddies who returned to the Rez when they were discharged or retired. Although the most bang for the buck would be to send those troops into California, Washington, Michigan and Kentucky, perhaps. ) But action is needed to remind people that money – especially FEDERAL money – has strings attached. I understand that fear is driving the councils (and many of the members) but it is their own people right here on the Rez that are going to suffer the most.