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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem banned from tribal land over U.S.-Mexico border comments: "Blatant disrespect"

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A South Dakota tribe has banned Republican Gov. Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she spoke this week about wanting to send razor wire and security personnel to Texas to help deter immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and also said cartels are infiltrating the state's reservations.

"Due to the safety of the Oyate, effective immediately, you are hereby Banished from the homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!" Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out said in a Friday statement addressed to Noem. "Oyate" is a word for people or nation.

Star Comes Out accused Noem, who has been campaigning for former U.S. President Donald Trump, of trying to use the border issue to help get Trump re-elected and boost her chances of becoming his running mate.

Many of those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are Indigenous people from places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico who come "in search of jobs and a better life," the tribal leader added.

"They don't need to be put in cages, separated from their children like during the Trump Administration, or be cut up by razor wire furnished by, of all places, South Dakota," he said.

South Dakota Legislature
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem gives her State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in the House of Representatives at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D. Jack Dura / AP

Star Comes Out also addressed Noem's remarks in the speech to lawmakers Wednesday in which she said a gang calling itself the Ghost Dancers is murdering people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is affiliated with border-crossing cartels that use South Dakota reservations to spread drugs throughout the Midwest.

Star Comes Out said he took deep offense at her reference, saying the Ghost Dance is one of the Oglala Sioux's "most sacred ceremonies," "was used with blatant disrespect and is insulting to our Oyate."

"Drug and human trafficking are occurring throughout South Dakota, and surrounding states, not just on Indian reservations," said Star Comes Out, CBS affiliate KELO-TV reports. "Drugs are being spread from places like Denver directly to reservations as well as off-reservation cities and towns in South Dakota.  Reservations cannot be blamed for drugs ending up in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and even in places like Watertown and Castlewood, S.D.   This was going on even when Trump was President."

He added that the tribe is a sovereign nation and does not belong to the state of South Dakota.

Noem responded Saturday in a statement, saying, "It is unfortunate that President (Star) Comes Out chose to bring politics into a discussion regarding the effects of our federal government's failure to enforce federal laws at the southern border and on tribal lands. My focus continues to be on working together to solve those problems."

"As I told bipartisan Native American legislators earlier this week, 'I am not the one with a stiff arm, here. You can't build relationships if you don't spend time together,'" she added. "I stand ready to work with any of our state's Native American tribes to build such a relationship."

In November, Star Comes Out declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation due to increasing crime. A judge ruled last year that the federal government has a treaty duty to support law enforcement on the reservation, but he declined to rule on the funding level the tribe sought.

Noem has deployed National Guard troops to the Mexican border three times, as have some other Republican governors.  "The border crisis is growing worse under President Biden's willful inaction," Noem said in June when annoucning a deployment of troops.

In 2021, she drew criticism for accepting a $1 million donation from a Republican donor to help cover the cost of a two-month deployment of 48 troops there.

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