After Keystone XL bill package, tribal leaders pull out of upcoming state-tribal ceremony
PIERRE, S.D. -- A week after the Legislature pushed through Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's surprise Keystone XL pipeline bill package, two of South Dakota's tribal chairmen are rescinding their tribes from a ceremony to be held on Capitol grounds.
Chairmen of the Oglala Sioux and Crow Creek Sioux tribes released statements on Monday, March 11, requesting that their tribes not be included in an impending ceremony at the state Capitol in Pierre, where Noem's administration plans to erect the flags of South Dakota's nine federally recognized tribes "as a sign of unity."
Noem on Feb. 27, State-Tribal Relations Day, announced her intentions to hold the ceremony. Less than one week later, Noem dropped her Keystone XL bill package.
"The purpose of these bills is to punish anyone who opposes the agenda of outside oil conglomerates like TransCanada," Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner said in Monday's release. "Their effects will be to violate the Constitutional rights of South Dakotans and Americans as well as the Treaty rights of the Oglala nationals."
Senate Bill 189 establishes civil penalties for "riot boosting," or contributing money to or encouraging violent pipeline protesters. Senate Bill 190 creates a funding source for extraordinary costs attributed to pipeline protests, sourced from local, state and federal dollars, as well as contributions from the pipeline company.
Noem said she consulted lawmakers, law enforcement and TransCanada in her development of Senate bills 189 and 190. Tribal leaders said they were not consulted.
"I’m well aware that some of our (tribal) leaders are not in favor of the pipeline, although we should all be in favor of it being peaceful," Noem said when she introduced the package.
In a March 6 joint hearing on the bill package, Matt McCauley, who serves as legal counsel to Noem's office, said tribes weren't consulted because the proposed pipeline route does not intersect with tribal land. The Legislature then suspended legislative rules in order to pass both bills by deadline.
Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Chairman Lester Thompson said in Monday's release that Noem "deliberately omitted Tribal Nations from any consultation or discussions."
Thompson said he had "high expectations" for Noem to build state-tribal relations, but "the actions of Gov. Noem and the state Legislature have destroyed our trust and the hopeful advancement toward reconciliation."
Both the Oglala and Crow Creek tribes asked that their flags not be shown in the Capitol display.
"I am respectfully requesting that our flag be removed so we do not have to come and remove it ourselves," Bear Runner said. "Our flag represents a commitment to protect Mother Earth, to respect the interdependent relationship we have with what westerners call 'natural resources.'"
He continued, "Until our free, prior and Informed consent is obtained with respect to the Keystone XL pipeline, we will not allow our flag to fly in the governor’s rotunda."