Four tribes ban Gov. Kristi Noem from their land for comments about Mexican drug cartels

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem cannot set foot on approximately 15% of the land in her state after four Native American tribes banned her for linking tribal leaders to Mexican drug cartels.

In the past few months, Noem has come under fire for drawing a connection between tribal leaders and drug cartels on reservations and accusing Native American parents of neglecting their children.

“We’ve got some tribal leaders that I believe are personally benefiting from the cartels being there and that’s why they attack me every day,” she said at a community forum in March.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe banned the governor from the Pine Ridge Reservation — the second largest in the country — in February, and the Cheyenne River Sioux followed suit last week. Then, this week, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation spans both North and South Dakota, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, both barred Noem from its lands as well.

Tribal leaders have criticized Noem for politicizing violent crime incidents on reservations. “Our people are being used for her political gain,” Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out told The Associated Press.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairwoman Janet Alkire also said that Noem's "wild and irresponsible" comments about tribal leaders are "a sad reflection of her fear-based politics."

Noem has clashed with tribal leaders in the past, and it isn't the first time she's been banned from tribal lands. In 2019, the Oglala Sioux Tribe banished her from Pine Ridge Reservation over her support for bills targeting Keystone XL Pipeline protesters.

Her incendiary comments about tribal leaders — along with her wholesale agreement with Donald Trump’s abortion stance and a recent dental makeover — have fueled speculation that she hopes to be Donald Trump's running mate, for which she is reportedly being considered.

Despite calls for an apology, Noem has doubled down. She has continued to assert that the proliferation of drugs on reservations proves that "every state is a border state," echoing other Republican governors' criticism of President Joe Biden's border policies.

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