Posted by Oglala Sioux Tribe - OST on Monday, May 11, 2020

'It’s really scary for us': Oglala Sioux Tribe orders lockdown after COVID-19 hits reservation

According to the media relations specialist for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the lockdown issued by President Julian Bear Runner is due to end by 12pm on May 13, 2020. See Executive Order.

The tribal council is expected to take up the issue at a meeting on May 13.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe ordered a reservation-wide shutdown Monday night, after learning two residents had tested positive for COVID-19, representing the first confirmed cases among its citizens.

The news drove home the mission of dozens of volunteers who arrived at six checkpoints along highways leading onto the reservation on Sunday, two days after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) gave the tribe 48 hours to shut down those checkpoints. Those volunteers decided Monday to leave those checkpoints after Noem seemingly eased up on her threats against the tribe.

Karin Eagle, media relations specialist for the tribe, choked up as she announced Monday night that two individuals who live in the same household had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“It’s really scary for us as the task force to have to announce this, but we do have to verify what’s already being published on social media – that our reservation does have two confirmed cases, positive cases,” she said. “They are located in the Wounded Knee District.”

A copy of the May 11, 2020, shutdown order on the Pine Ridge Reservation was shared by the Oglala Sioux Tribe on social media.

Eagle said the tribe doesn’t know where within the Wounded Knee District they live. The two main communities in that district are Wounded Knee and Manderson.

“Keep these two people in your prayers and in your thoughts,” Eagle said. “These are relatives of ours.”

The tribe’s executive committee made the decision Monday to order all residents to remain in their homes and to shut down all businesses on the reservation for 72 hours starting Monday evening. The committee also ordered all tribal law enforcement, parks and recreation, and security officers to assist in enforcing the shutdown, including requiring at least one police officer at each checkpoint leading onto the reservation.

Dakota High Hawk, public information officer for the tribe’s COVID-19 Task Force, said anyone caught outside their homes during the shutdown would risk being arrested and would face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“You will not be allowed to leave your residences and go on essential business for the next 72 hours,” he said.

Update with Bryan Brewer on Lakota Checkpoints

Thank you for joining for this live interview with Bryan Brewer, former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who helped organize checkpoints this weekend across the Pine Ridge Reservation. On Friday, SD Gov. Kristi Noem ordered the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to shut down their checkpoints or face legal action.

Posted by Indianz.Com on Monday, May 11, 2020
Indianz.Com Live with Kevin Abourezk:#Coronavirus Checkpoint Update with Bryan Brewer of Oglala Sioux Tribe [Evening]

The executive committee offered exemptions to those residents needing dialysis and those requiring emergency medical procedures.

High Hawk said the 72-hour lockdown would allow tribal tracers to investigate any potential contacts the two positive individuals might have had on the reservation and also would help prevent the spread of the virus among anyone who might have contracted the virus but aren’t showing symptoms yet.

He said the tribe would still allow travelers to pass through the reservation but would require them to not stop along their journey, and he said the tribe might even follow those visitors as they drove through the reservation to ensure they didn’t stop along the way.

Eagle called for reservation residents to remain calm and remain in their homes.

“Do not make a run on the stores right now because they will be shutting down,” she said.

An Interview with Francisca Tobacco near Red Shirt, SD

Thank you for joining for this live interview with Francisca Tobacco, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who has been helping reinforce a checkpoint for her tribe in the Badlands of South Dakota.

Posted by Indianz.Com on Monday, May 11, 2020
Indianz.Com Live with Kevin Abourezk:#Coronavirus Checkpoint Update with Francisca Tobacco from Pine Ridge Reservation

The two individuals who tested positive for coronavirus aren’t the first reservation residents to test positive. In early April, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted to banish a non-tribal citizen from the reservation after she contracted COVID-19 after leaving the reservation and then returning from Denver.

But Eagle said tribal leaders were not considering banishing the two tribal members who tested positive.

“That is not something we are doing for our tribal members,” she said.

High Hawk said any tribal citizens needing food during the lockdown could contact the tribe’s Community Health Representative Office at (605) 867-5801.

"REZpect our Sovereignty": A sign at a coronavirus checkpoint on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo courtesy Tashina Gleska win

News of the tribe’s first positive cases among its citizens came on the same day that dozens of tribal volunteers, including veterans, decided to leave checkpoints leading into the reservation. Those volunteers had gathered at those checkpoints on Sunday morning in response to an ultimatum on Friday issued by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Noem had ordered the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to shut down their checkpoints along state and federal highways leading through their lands within 48 hours or face legal action. With her deadline set to expire Sunday, a group of veterans and others decided to show up at checkpoints to ensure state officials didn’t shut down those checkpoints, which the tribe established to stop the spread of the coronavirus by ensuring travelers coming from hard-hit regions aren’t allowed on the reservation.

Bryan Brewer, former president of the tribe, said the decision to leave the checkpoints came Monday after Noem seemingly toned down her rhetoric and threats during a news conference earlier in the day.

“We feel that there is no immediate threat right now,” he said.

Bryan Brewer Gives Update on Pine Ridge Checkpoints

Former Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer gives an update on efforts to man checkpoints across the Pine Ridge Reservation after SD Gov. Krisit Noem ordered the tribe to shut down those checkpoints.

Posted by Indianz.Com on Monday, May 11, 2020
Indianz.Com Live with Kevin Abourezk:#Coronavirus Checkpoint Update with Bryan Brewer of Oglala Sioux Tribe [Afternoon]

During the news conference Monday, a reporter asked Noem whether she was still considering suing the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, to which Noem offered a somewhat ambiguous answer.

“Obviously conversations would still like to be ongoing, but we will be taking actions so that we can get some clarity as to how to move forward,” she told reporters.

It was unclear what “actions” she planned to take, though Brewer said he doesn’t expect those actions would involve the use of National Guard soldiers as some had feared Sunday.

Noem said she had received reports from ranchers, road crew workers and emergency service providers who told her office that they had been turned away from entering the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations at checkpoints.

She said she planned to take action to ensure essential goods can still be transported to reservation communities.

Citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe man a checkpoint on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on May 10, 2020. Photo courtesy Anna Halverson

Brewer, who spent much of Sunday and Monday at a checkpoint near Batesland on the east side of the reservation, said the checkpoint personnel didn't turn away any area residents or those with business on the reservation.

“Everyone went through,” he said. “They just needed to check to see where they were going.”

He said he hoped the leaders of the two tribes would meet with Noem to resolve their disputes over the tribal checkpoints.

“I really wish she would just back off and allow us to keep our checkpoints and try to understand why we’re doing it,” Brewer said. “We’re trying to do it to protect our people.”

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