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Native Sun News: South Dakota tribal IDs not always accepted

Filed Under: Business | Law | National
More on: native sun news, south dakota

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Blocking Tribal ID’s raises questions
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY — The issue of whether or not a tribal identification card is a valid form of identification for banking purposes was dealt with by the Eighty-Six session of the South Dakota Legislature in 2011. Three years later, despite the 2011 law, it still poses a problem for many tribal members.

What the law, which was passed in 2011 and made effective on July 1, 2011, does is ensure that banks and financial institutions accept tribal IDs for banking purposes and to prove that a person is old enough to buy tobacco.

What the bill does not do is require businesses to accept tribal IDs for check writing; to obtain or renew a SD drivers license or ID card as federal law prohibits it; to require businesses to cash checks if they do not cash checks for others customers; require businesses to accept third party checks.

Introduced by Representatives Killer, Elliot, Fargen, Hunhoff, Iron Cloud III, Kirschman, Lucas, Schrempp, Sigdestad, Stricherz, and Wismer and Senators Bradford, Buhl, Frerichs, Lederman, Maher, Nygaard, Schlekeway and Sutton, House Bill 1242 authorizes the use of tribal IDs to be accepted as the equivalent of certain-state issued documents of identification purposes.

The purposes they are to be accepted for are banking or financial institutions for which a SD non-driver ID or drivers license may be used.

The tribal IDs in the terms of this act are to be unexpired cards issued by a SD tribal government recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior, which contains the legal name, date of birth, signature and picture of the enrolled member.

The law does not speed up the time it takes a check to clear so the cash will be available. Businesses and banks can still refuse to cash a check for other reasons, such as a check amount being too high; they simply have to recognize a tribal ID as proof of identity.

Recently in Rapid City the question of tribal ID card acceptance came to light at several of the local Western Union money transfer locations. The Family Thrift Center at 855 Omaha Street had previously accepted the tribal ID cards for the purpose of receiving, or picking up a money wire transfer.

With no posted notification, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who had used that location several times to both receive and accept money transfers, was denied services due to their choice of using their tribal ID. An employee who had done the previous transactions was willing to continue to accept the ID card, but another employee interceded and stopped the transaction, stating that it was “store policy” to not accept any IDs other than state issued cards.

When pressed for more information as to when the change occurred, or if the policy was posted or could be obtained, both employees walked away from the service center desk. A call made by Native Sun News to the Family Thrift Store at 751 Mountain View Road, another location where tribal ID cards had previously been accepted, brought the response that there was a policy to not accept tribal IDs but that it was a Western Union policy, not a Family Thrift Store policy.

Calls and messages via email to request verification of the policy were sent to both the Western Union Customer Service Center, the Western Union corporate offices, and the parent company of the local Family Thrift Stores, Spartan Nash. As of press time, there has been no response to any of the inquiries.

It is important to note that the K-Mart store located at 1111 East North Street in Rapid City as well as the Check Into Cash located at 107 East North Street both accept non-expired tribal identification cards. Both locations verify that they have not heard of any notice of a policy from Western Union prohibiting the use of tribal IDs for transactions of any kind.

The South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations verifies that the identification cards issued by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton/Lake Traverse Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe all have modified their tribal identification cards to fall in line with the requirements of this law.

However the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe ID cards issued are not to be used for age verification but may be modified for such purposes in the future pursuant to tribal council action. A call made by Native Sun News to the Lower Brule Sioux tribal headquarters resulted in a conversation with John Long Turkey who verified that the modifications had not been done.

“Why does there need to be an expiration date, our membership never expire” stated Long Turkey “It’s been brought up but hasn’t gone anywhere because our one bank here on the reservation knows everyone and they don’t need to show their tribal IDs. If a member lives off the reservation they all have state IDs.”

The SD Tribal Relations office asks that tribal members who run into a business that refuses to accept their tribal ID cards for age verification for tobacco purchases or check cashing businesses that refuse to accept them for cashing a check to call into the (605)773-5973, or through their website at

When filing a complaint include your name, phone number and which tribe you are enrolled with; the name, number and address of business that rejected the ID; a detailed statement that took place when the ID was refused and the reason the employee gave you for rejecting the ID.

If readers who would like to include the names and addresses of any other businesses in their community that do accept tribal ID cards, email them to as Native Sun News will be doing a follow up to this story.

To read the full text of the law you can find it at

(Contact Karin Eagle at

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