The largest tribe in South Dakota has barred the state’s governor from its lands for the second time in at least five years after her speech about curbing immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border “offended” the tribal president.
Frank Star Comes Out, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, made the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota off limits to Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Friday after she told the state legislature that she was sending razor wire and security personnel to Texas, and that unauthorized immigration was harming reservations.
“Due to the safety of the Oyate, effective immediately, you are hereby Banished from the homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!” Star Comes Out said in the statement posted to social media.
“Oyate” is a word for people or nation.
Star Comes Out noted that the Oglala Sioux is a “sovereign nation,” under the protection of the United States, not South Dakota.
He said in a statement that Noem was using the border issue to influence Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and joist her chances of becoming his running mate.
Star Comes Out and other tribal leaders did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment Sunday afternoon.
Noem responded to the tribe’s statement on Saturday, saying it was unfortunate that 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.”
She did not respond to a request for comment Sunday morning.
The back-and-forth comes amid a historic flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
For months, a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators have been trying to find a compromise on border security.
In a major shift from traditional Democratic rhetoric on migration last month, President Biden said he would use emergency authorization to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” if Congress passes the bipartisan immigration plan. He urged the House GOP majority to accept the Senate deal.
In December, about 10,000 people per day crossed the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Democrats and Republicans agree that this level of migration is unsustainable, The Post reported last month.
Crossings declined in January because Mexico increased enforcement.
In the tribal statement, Star Comes Out said Noem should support the bipartisan border deal in Congress.
While speaking to the legislature on Wednesday, and again in a statement issued Saturday, Noem described the influx of immigrants at the border as an “invasion” that is bringing a violent presence to tribal reservations and spreading drugs and human trafficking through the state.
Star Comes Out said that Noem’s use of the term “invasion” is misplaced, and that drugs and human trafficking affect all of South Dakota and surrounding states.
In November, the Oglala Sioux Tribe declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation — a 3,500-mile tract about 60 miles southwest of Pierre — due to increasing crime, according to the Associated Press.
Many of those arriving at the border are Indigenous people coming “in search of jobs and a better life” from countries that include El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, Star Comes Out said in his Friday statement.
“[They] don’t deserve to be dehumanized and mistreated by people like [Texas] Governor [Greg] Abbot[t] and his cohorts,” he said. “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.”
Noem was previously barred from Pine Ridge Reservation in 2019 during a years-long feud over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, as previously reported by The Post. “If you do not honor this directive,” wrote the tribe’s then-president, Julian Bear Runner, “we will have no choice but to banish you.”
The tribal council removed the ban in December 2019, after Noem said the state would not enforce some parts of anti-riot laws, according to the Rapid City Journal. Tribes said the laws were developed to target their protests.
The pipeline project was scrapped in June 2021.
In her response to Friday’s directive, Noem said she wants to work on relationships between the state and the Oglala Sioux.
“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 said.
Noem did not address Star Comes Out’s claim about her jockeying for the vice presidency.
On Sunday, Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo asked Donald Trump whether he’d consider Noem as a running mate. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, said Noem “has been incredible fighting for me.”
“She said: ‘I’d never run against him because I can’t beat him,’” Trump said. “That was a very nice thing to say.”
Mariana Alfaro, Liz Goodwin and Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report.