Photo of Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) by Gage Skidmore. Photo of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Native Sun News Today: Tribal sovereignty threatened by new bill

Sovereignty threatened by Noem

Her Bill attacks all Indian Nations
By Native Sun News Today Staff

WASHINGTON - There is major concern amongst South Dakota’s tribal leaders about a bill (H.R.4864) introduced by South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, both of them Republicans.

The Bill is euphemistically called “No Haven for Dangerous Fugitives Act” and addresses what they proclaim as the current policy that allows some suspects wanted on felony charges, including violent crimes, to flee to Indian reservations and evade arrest. The Noem/Gowdy bill would give federal law enforcement the authority to enter tribal land and apprehend any defendant.

This national bill would impact all of Indian Country. Brent Leonhard, attorney for the Umatilla Confederated Tribes of Oregon said, “There was no consultation on this bill and it will have far reaching negative consequences for tribes and will disrupt tribal/federal/state relations. The bill would allow US Marshalls to arrest tribal members on their reservations with state warrants without having to comply with any tribal/state MOU (memorandum of understanding) or tribal extradition process.”

Citing Public Law 280, Leonhard said, “It would essentially treat non-PL 280 jurisdiction tribes like PL 280 criminal jurisdiction tribes, but worse, because there is no requirement to follow tribal process for extradition unlike is currently the case. This flies in the face of tribal sovereignty and would disrupt tribal/state relations where MOUs and procedures have already been established.”

South Dakota is not a PL 280 state.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe vociferously expressed its concern about the bill. Chairman Harold Frazier said, “The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe strongly opposes HR.4864, the bill that you introduced that erodes tribal sovereignty and the jurisdiction of treaty tribes. As, a sovereign tribe, we conduct our own affairs and we do not depend on the State of South Dakota as a source of power to legitimize us. We demand you leave us to regulate our own internal affairs and respect our constitution, comity and jurisdictional boundaries. Here on Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe we have an extradition process for criminals. It would make more sense for you and the federal government to visit our reservation, so you can become knowledgeable of our laws, culture and history. I demand you pull this bill and meet with us! Indian Country is not a haven for fugitives to evade law enforcement.”

“There are many more arguments against this well-intended but shortsighted bill. In practice, it is not tribal, or state, friendly. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, strongly recommends HR. 4864 be pulled. I am disappointed that you as our Congressional Representative, didn’t consult with Tribal Leaders in South Dakota prior to introducing HR.4864. I am requesting a meeting to discuss this further. You may call my office at your earliest convenience at 605-964-4155. I look forward to hearing from you,” Chairman Frazier concluded.

Comments from other South Dakota tribal leaders will be forthcoming. But most of them wondered why Noem would introduce such a divisive bill in a year when she is running for Governor of the State of South Dakota.

George Wilson, businessman from the Pine Ridge Reservation said, “I think she is sadly underestimating the power of the Indian vote and I guess we will have to organize and prove her wrong.”


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