FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2024
Contact: Amelia Joy
Gov. Noem Responds to President Star Comes Out
PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem issued the following statement in response to Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out’s comments:
”In my first year serving as Governor, I repeatedly visited Pine Ridge to work on relationships between the State of South Dakota and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. I wanted to work with them on a number of issues – I still do. In my last visit to Pine Ridge, as I was speaking before an assembly, one gentleman said to me, ‘Governor Noem, I hear lots of bad things about you. And I believe them. But you’re coming here so much now, I’m starting to think that you care.’ Shortly after that meeting, I was banned from the tribe.
“It is unfortunate that President Star Comes Out chose to bring politics into a discussion regarding the effects of our federal government’s failure to enforce federal laws at the southern border and on tribal lands. My focus continues to be on working together to solve those problems.
“I have been working for years to build relationships with our tribes. My state agencies and departments have worked with tribal leaders on a daily basis to deliver services to tribal communities including healthcare, economic development, social services, housing, food programs, suicide prevention, drug addiction treatment, infrastructure costs, and emergency response.
“I am grateful to have celebrated the hanging of two tribal flags in honor in the Capitol Rotunda last month – we are close to having more flags and look forward to holding the next ceremony soon. We have signed gaming compacts, and the first two bills that I signed this legislative session prioritize relationships between the State and our tribes.
“These relationships are by no means perfect; there is still disagreement at times. Any relationship takes work and consistent effort.
“In my speech to the legislature earlier this week, I told the truth of the devastation that drugs and human trafficking have on our state and our people. The Mexican cartels are not only impacting our tribal reservations; they are impacting every community, from our big cities to our small towns. But our tribal reservations are bearing the worst of that in South Dakota. Speaking this fact is not meant to blame the tribes in any way – they are the victim here. They are the victim of cartel-driven criminal activity, and they are the victim of inaction by the federal government.
“I also recognize and said in my border address that issues with tribal law enforcement predate the Biden Administration. I had conversations about these issues with former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr. In my experience, unlike the current administration, the previous administration was willing to have conversations about how we can work together to address these challenges.
“I thank President Star Comes out for his service in our nation’s military. As I told bipartisan Native American legislators earlier this week, ‘I am not the one with a stiff arm, here. You can’t build relationships if you don’t spend time together.’ I stand ready to work with any of our state’s Native American tribes to build such a relationship.”