Gov. Noem Urges U.S. Senate to Enhance Public Safety on Tribal Reservations

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February 28, 2024

Contact: Amelia Joy


Gov. Noem Urges U.S. Senate to Enhance Public Safety on Tribal Reservations


PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to address public safety on Native American reservations across the United States. She also urged the Committee to bring in high-ranking officials in the Biden Administration to testify on these matters, including Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Attorney General Merrick Garland. You can read her letter to the Committee here.


“I write to you to urge the Committee to take appropriate action to help tribal communities across the country address the breakdown of the rule of law that is occurring in their lands,” wrote Governor Noem in the letter. “The Committee must also urge the Biden Administration to stop shirking its treaty obligations and take necessary actions to keep these people safe.”


In the letter, Governor Noem pointed to emergency declarations that several of South Dakota’s Native American tribes have issued for the breakdown of law and order, drug addiction, and other related challenges.


Governor Noem also highlighted testimony from Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, including:


“The State of South Dakota lacks criminal jurisdiction over Indian Country crimes; thus, in reality, the sole provider of law enforcement services to the Oglala Sioux Tribe is the federal government. We believe this federal neglect has resulted in the cartel moving on to our reservation, an increase in overdoses, and a proliferation of guns on our school properties.”


Governor Noem urged Congress and the Biden Administration to take the following actions to address these challenges:

  • Support adequate resources to fund tribal law enforcement so that the tribes may take action to protect themselves;
  • Invite leaders from tribal communities across the country, including South Dakota’s tribes, to testify in front of your committee about the threats they face and the lack of adequate federal aid in response; and
  • Bring Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, and Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Daryl LaCounte in to testify regarding the Biden Administration’s failure to fulfill its treaty obligation to protect these communities.


“I offer my assistance to help these efforts. The State of South Dakota is committed to building stronger relationships with each of our nine Native American tribes and assisting them to address the challenges that they face. These communities are every bit as American as your homes and mine – they deserve to live in safety so that their people may have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream,” concluded Governor Noem.