PIERRE, S.D. -- Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said the Oglala Sioux tribe's making her unwelcome on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation came as "quite a surprise" after she introduced and signed an anti-pipeline protest bill in March.
Tribal President Julian Bear Runner on Thursday, May 2 sent a letter to Noem declaring that she is not welcome on the reservation until she rescinds support for her own pipeline bill package introduced and passed in March. Bear Runner was joined by all 18 of the tribe's council members, who voted unanimously to ban Noem.
On a Tuesday phone conference with media, Noem said she won't go where she is not welcome, but she is "hoping that the president will change his mind and will be wiling to work with (her)."
She added that though she is not welcome on Pine Ridge, tribal members are welcome to meet with her in Pierre.
Noem's Senate Bills 189 and 190 were fiercely opposed by the Oglala Sioux and other South Dakota tribes when they were introduced and passed within the final week of the 2019 legislative session. Tribes and other activists allege that Senate Bill 189, in particular infringes upon First Amendment rights to free speech and protest.
The law and two others are being challenged in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state.
Noem introduced the bill package after consulting with local officials and representatives of TransCanada, the Calgary-based energy company behind the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, but not tribal leadership. On Tuesday's call, Noem said tribes weren't included in those preliminary discussions because the proposed pipeline route does not go through reservation land.
"Tribal leadership had the opportunity to influence the legislation once it was introduced, just like every other South Dakotan," she said.
Noem said she thought "every voice was, in fact, heard."
"I understand that not everyone, including tribal leadership, is going to agree with approach that was taken, but that’s OK," she said. "That’s the way our system of government works."
With local and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials beginning preliminary assessments of flood damage this week, Noem said she does not think the tribe's decision has "hindered any applications for FEMA resources."
In addition to the council's decision to ban Noem, the Oglala Sioux tribe has said it will not participate in Noem's proposed state-tribal relations flag ceremony on the state's Capitol grounds in Pierre. The Crow Creek Sioux, Yankton Sioux and Lower Brule Sioux tribes have also said they will not participate.