Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Rosebud Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Posted: May 13, 2020

With 13 positive cases of coronavirus on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, tribal leaders have enacted a host of new laws to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In announcing the laws Tuesday, Rosebud Sioux President Rodney Bordeaux took aim at South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who ordered the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes on Friday to take down checkpoints they established at the borders of their reservations. She threatened to take legal action against those tribes if they didn’t remove those checkpoints within 48 hours.

As of Tuesday, neither tribe had removed any checkpoints, and leaders from both tribes have said they have no plans to do so.

“Our relatives at the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are trying to protect their people and preserve what little medical resources they have,” Bordeaux said. “Threatening to sue them for protecting their people does nothing more than call attention to the state’s failure to protect its people in a similar fashion.”

With only 22 hospital beds on the entire reservation, Bordeaux said the tribe is facing a “public health emergency of the highest order” and he called on his tribe’s citizens to heed public health measures enacted to prevent the further spread of the virus on the reservation.

“People who refuse to quarantine, even after being diagnosed, are a greater threat to our people than any action that can be taken by the State of South Dakota,” he said.

Already, the tribe has declared a state of emergency and recommended no one leave the reservation. In addition, the tribe locked down one community heavily affected by coronavirus for nearly a week. The lockdown of the Spring Creek Community began May 5 and ended on Monday.

The tribe also has enacted a reservation wide curfew each night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The tribe also has banned the consumption of alcohol during the state of emergency.

The tribe also is requiring all residents to wear face masks anytime they are inside businesses or within the company of people who are not from their households.

“We must have laws that will address this pandemic and the troubling behavior of those relatives who refuse to quarantine and isolate themselves,” Bordeaux said on Tuesday before announcing the new laws enacted by the tribe. “No one has a right to infect other people.”

Most of the new laws are considered Class A offenses and are punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. Other offenses are considered Class B offenses, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Among the Class A offenses are:

Failure to cooperate with a law enforcement or public health official by lying or refusing to provide information to such official or refusing an order from such an official to remain inside a residence.

Failure for a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to quarantine, which the law defines as strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease. Those who violate this regulation will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 days in jail.

Intentionally spreading disease by coughing, spitting or injecting. Violation of this regulation shall result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.

The tribe also codified a Class B offense: failure to adhere to a tribal presidential or council declaration of public health emergency. Violations of this regulation include refusing to remain at home during a lockdown or other such measure.

“These laws are specifically targeted to the public health emergency that is presently before us,” Bordeaux said.

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