Gov. Noem to Tribes: "Banish the Cartels."

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April 2, 2024

Contact: Amelia Joy


Gov. Noem to Tribes: “Banish the Cartels.”


PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem issued a statement regarding cartel presence on South Dakota Native American tribal reservations.


“I call on all our tribal leaders to banish the cartels from tribal lands,” said Governor Noem. “The cartels instigate drug addiction, murder, rape, human trafficking, and so much more in tribal communities across the nation, including in South Dakota. I will work with you to sign Law Enforcement Agreements to immediately assist you, respect your sovereignty, and uphold tribal law.”


Mexican drug cartel presence in Indian country is a problem across the nation. Recent media reports say, “In many ways, Indian reservations make for ideal places for a drug operation to set up shop. The communities suffer from high rates of drug addiction and low numbers of law enforcement.”


In addition, the Biden Administration is underfunding tribal law enforcement, preventing the tribes from adequately responding to public safety issues.  Last week, Governor Noem called for an audit of federal funds going to South Dakota’s Native American tribes. Since then, dozens of Native Americans from across South Dakota have reached out to the Governor thanking her for speaking the truth and asking for her help.


“Every time that a South Dakota tribe has asked me for assistance, I have done what I can, both while in Congress and as governor,” continued Governor Noem. “I will continue to speak the truth, call out corruption wherever I see it, and fight to protect the lives of Native Americans in our state – because that’s what they deserve.”


Last week, immediately following Governor Noem’s call for an audit, multiple members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, including tribal councilmembers, unveiled serious allegations of corruption within tribal government including:

  • Allegations that the Oglala Lakota Housing Authority had improperly purchased vehicles, hadn’t returned $7.65 million in ERA funds to the U.S. Treasury, and was spending 90% of its budget on salaries;
  • A question from one tribal member about why Oglala Sioux Tribe was hiring “Mexicans from Texas” when there is 80% unemployment among the tribal population;
  • A concern from one tribal member that the tribal government is being “weaponized, used against people who have questions;”
  • A comment from one tribal councilmember that he had “never seen in black and white an actual budget of where we’re at financially;” and
  • Several comments reiterating Governor Noem’s call for an audit.


Video of these comments will be made available upon request.


Governor Noem has repeatedly reiterated a request for Law Enforcement Agreements between the State of South Dakota and the state’s Native American tribes: “Although the state and tribes might not always agree, the need for law and order in our communities is imperative to combat illegal activities in our most vulnerable and rural areas.”