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Kristi Noem: Trump VP hopeful outlawed on six Native American reservations


Two Native American tribes in South Dakota have barred its governor, Kristi Noem, from their land as she doubles down on derogatory commentary against tribal leaders and reservation life.

The latest bans add to existing exclusions from four other reservations this year. Ms Noem is now banned from nearly one-fifth of state territory.

It comes after the Republican cut short a disastrous national media book tour.

Ms Noem was once a frontrunner to be Donald Trump’s running mate this year.

Less than three months ago, she topped a poll of candidates to run as vice-president for the November election. However, a crop of recent controversies, including a story of how she shot a pet dog, have drawn bipartisan criticism.

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Yankton Sioux tribes on Friday passed separate resolutions to prohibit Ms Noem from setting foot in their territory.

The tribes joined the Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux tribes in making the state’s chief executive an outlaw on their lands. It means six of South Dakota’s nine Native tribes are now refusing her entry.

Tribal governments have a sovereign right to exclude non-tribal members from their lands, with tribal law enforcement prepared to act if necessary.

A secretary for the Yankton Sioux, however, clarified to local media that the tribe has not “officially” banned the governor by a vote of its general council, but one by its business and claims committee, the main elected body.

As governor, Ms Noem, 52, has often been at odds with these authorities. While tribal and federal authorities have criminal jurisdiction over reservations, she has sought to expand state power.

She was banished in 2019 by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council after signing anti-riot legislation in response to Native-led protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, and then again earlier this year over rhetoric linking illegal immigration to crime on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The governor also ignored tribal objections to a 2020 fireworks display over Mount Rushmore and clashed with tribal leaders after they set up coronavirus checkpoints to control visits to their reservations.

Most recently, she alleged Native children “don’t have any hope” because of absentee parents and suggested without evidence that tribal leaders were “personally benefitting” from drug cartel operators.

“Governor Kristi Noem’s wild and irresponsible attempt to connect tribal leaders and parents with Mexican drug cartels is a sad reflection of her fear-based politics that do nothing to bring people together to solve problems,” Janet Alkire, chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux, wrote in a lengthy five-page rebuke in March.

A spokesman for Ms Noem told the BBC that “banishing Governor Noem does nothing to solve the problem… she calls on all our tribal leaders to banish the cartels from tribal lands”.

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