Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Oglala Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)
Posted: May 14, 2020

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council chose not to extend a reservation-wide lockdown Wednesday that was enacted by the tribe’s executive committee two days before after the committee learned that two tribal citizens had tested positive for COVID-19.

The executive committee had initially called for a 72-hour lockdown that would have ended Thursday night but later amended that order to end at noon Wednesday in order to accommodate an emergency council meeting held Wednesday afternoon.

Despite learning that three more reservation residents had tested positive for the coronavirus, the tribal council took no action Wednesday to extend the reservation-wide lockdown. As a result, a reservation-wide stay-at-home order, which originally took effect May 2 but was briefly superseded by the lockdown order, went back into effect Wednesday. The stay-at-home order ends at 6 p.m. mountain time Saturday.

The tribal council also voted Wednesday to table discussion about President Julian Bear Runner’s arrest on May 2 by tribal police. Bear Runner was later charged in tribal court with driving while intoxicated and verbal assault. A tribal officer administered a blood-alcohol test after pulling Bear Runner over, finding he had blood-alcohol content of 0.107 percent, far above the legal limit on the reservation.

The complaint against Bear Runner also described an alleged incident that occurred in Manderson, a community on the reservation, involving Bear Runner. A tribal officer contacted a male who told the officer that Bear Runner had told him he was going to “beat his ass,” leading to the verbal assault accusation.

According to the stay-at-home order that again took effect Wednesday, only essential travel is allowed on the reservation, and reservation residents aren’t allowed to leave to buy groceries or household supplies, except to the communities of Martin, South Dakota, and Whiteclay, Nebraska.

Reservation residents with a travel pass will be allowed to work off the reservation. Those who live on the reservation but work off the reservation are not allowed to leave their homes while on the reservation.

Travel off the reservation for medical care for chronic illnesses and emergency health conditions is allowed, though travelers must offer verification at the borders.

Tribal members who have been away from the reservation for more than 24 hours and who wish to return after visiting a place hard-hit by the coronavirus are discouraged from returning during the stay-at-home period.

The tribe also has established a homeless shelter at the Billy Mills Hall and will continue a reservation-wide curfew that requires businesses to close at 8 p.m. mountain time and requires residents to remain in their home after 9 p.m.

In addition, the tribe plans to continue operating its checkpoints on highways leading onto the reservation, despite threats of legal action by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem last week.

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