South Dakota vs the Sioux Over Coronavirus “Checkpoints”

Andrew Donaldson

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar J_A says:

    Since I am a supporter of either we do federalism all the way down to each community, or we drop the concept altogether, my sympathies are with the tribes.

    Big state government out of touch elites in far away Pierre should not be telling local communities how they should or should not respond to a pandemic. Subsidiarity and all that.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to J_A says:

      I suspect the real issue is that they shut down state and federal highways that go from point A to point C, where A and C are on opposite sides of the reservation. Having to drive around the Cheyenne River reservation east-west more than doubles the required distance, adding 110 miles. A north-south trip through the Pine Ridge reservation jumps from 75 miles to over 300 miles.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to George Turner says:

        Maybe we should move them onto their own land or something…Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Kazzy says:

          We could, but we’d need to find someplace smaller and more remote where they wouldn’t interfere with highway traffic.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to George Turner says:

            How shitty of them to violently take land across which we had built sacred highways centuries ago…Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Kazzy says:

              Indeed. Liberal white folks will likely find the situation so offensive to Native American culture that we’ll probably have to tear out the roads, along with the electric and gas lines, and let the Sioux all live in tune with nature – in the cold and dark.

              Thankfully this situation doesn’t arise elsewhere because white settlers were smart enough not to live right where Eisenhower would be putting highways a hundred years later.Report

          • Have you been near Pine Ridge? They do empty really well :^) When you mentioned the extra mileage earlier, I was tempted to make a snide remark about it being inconvenient for all of two or three non-residents on a busy day. My dad used to be a traveling auditor/safety engineer whose territory included that corner of Nebraska. He had to make multiple trips per year out through Alliance and Chadron and Crawford. In the winter he traveled with a “blizzard box” of survival gear in his trunk. The worst time he got caught he was stranded for three days before a plow came by that he could follow.Report

            • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Michael Cain says:

              I used to drive from Chamberlain to Pierre once in awhile, though Crow Creek. Aside from the rez town, there just isn’t anything there. Cheyenne River is even more sparse. When I lived there 30 years ago, there were still towns with 4 digit dialing on their phones.

              What’s really disheartening about this whole story is Gov. Noem fighting this out in the newspapers and airwaves. It probably plays well in the state, but shitting on those people in these times is about as punching down as you can get.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    (runs into room panting) “THEY SHOULD SIOUX!”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      When you’re good, you’re good but…

      [runs into room] “They should…”
      [panting] “They should…”
      [scans comments] “… Sioux!”
      [waits for applause]
      [slinks out of room]
      [texts friends to brag]Report

  3. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    Tribes are regarded as sovereign entities, no? Thus, they would have the right to do this.

    Tribes seem to be exceptionally hard-hit by this, and even in the best of times, many Native people live in some of the worst poverty in the nation. My perhaps-ignorant opinion is that I do not have a problem with tribal leadership choosing to do this.

    Also, distrust of non-Native government leadership seems….historically informed on their part.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to fillyjonk says:

      The tribes in New Mexico have been hammered by the virus. Gallup, NM asked the governor to block the major roads in the city so that tourists couldn’t access the Zuni and Navajo Nation lands from there. (Gallup isn’t majority Native American, but close). The governor did so promptly. At least as of the NM DOT site this morning, the exits from I-40 are still closed throughout the area. Barricades are being manned by the state police and Army National Guard.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to fillyjonk says:

      It looks like the issue is that they can close their lands and their own-roads, but are not supposed to commandeer non-tribal roads without first consultation and agreement.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Maybe they should build a wall.Report

  5. Avatar James K says:

    Some of the rural iwi in New Zealand have been doing this too. Since people aren’t supposed to be moving around much under lockdown anyway, I beleive the police have largely just let them be.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I would be willing to bet that this is a The Large Print Giveth, and the Small Print Taketh Away situation. Who paid for the roads, who mantains them, etc. Sucks, but there you go.Report

    • Avatar J_A in reply to Aaron David says:

      You mean you do not believe in federalism and subsidiarity, and letting communities manage their own affairs, and laboratories of democracy.

      It’s good that we have cleared that out.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to J_A says:

        Yes, being able to describe something indicates complete approval. Yep, yessiree!

        Simply recognizing how the world currently works, and describing it, has nothing to do with approval of it.


        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Aaron David says:

          Gee, I assumed that if the federal government used right of way to put a highway across my land, and I start worrying about corona virus, I can just shut the highway down to reduce my risk of infection. You’re saying I might be somewhat mistaken in that regard?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to J_A says:

        Note that federalism isn’t a system where all power is devolved to state goverments, but rather a system under which national concerns are governed by the federal government and state concerns are governed by the state governments. The authority to regulate travel on interstate highways, one of which (Route 212) passes through the reservation, is generally reserved to the federal government. The justification for this is discussed in Federalist 42; the TL;DR is that under the Articles of Confederation, states were levying undue taxes on goods passing through en route between two states on either side. This is the actual reason we have the Commerce Clause.

        There’s a nontrivial Constitutional issue here; see this discussion by Eugene Volokh.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

      The main problem with your argument is that federally recognized tribes are legally considered sovereign nations, meaning they only have to deal with the federal government. The Governor can bitch all she wants and the tribes are quite free to ignore her. The creatorship of the roads, and their maintenance doesn’t matter in this instance.

      Case in point – when you drive through western New York state on the New Your Turnpike/ I-90, you go through the Oneida Reservation west of Buffalo. The Tribe has posted big blue signs telling you you have entered the Reservation on a road that New York citizens pay for but you are subject to tribal law. The tribal cops freely hand out speeding tickets and other violations, and more then once I’ve seen a state trooper turn around at the boundary.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Well, if precedent is any guide, maybe they need to get a bunch of guys* with assault rifles and dressed in paramilitary garb to commandeer the checkpoints, and wave Gadsden flags and ramble incoherently about tyranny and watering trees of liberty.

    *White guys, of course.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    DeSantis did this in Florida a couple of months ago and nobody seemed to care as much back thenReport