Not only is the Oglala Sioux tribe unhappy with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, due to her stance on border security, the tribe has officially banished her from certain tribal lands.
Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out wrote a letter on behalf of the Pine Ridge Reservation after Noem said she would be willing to send razor wire and National Guard personnel to Texas to help deter illegal immigration. She also said that cartels from south of the border have begun to infiltrate the state’s Indian reservations. Noem made the remarks during her State of the State address on Jan. 31 to the South Dakota Legislature.
“Due to the safety of the Oyate, effective immediately, you are hereby Banished from the homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!” Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out said in his letter to Noem. The term “Oyate” translates to people or nation.
Star Comes Out defended “Indian people from such places as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico” that come to America for a better life.
He took umbrage at Noem’s statement that a gang that calls itself the “Ghost Dancers” is affiliated with border-crossing carters that are using South Dakota reservations to traffic drugs throughout the Midwest, and that these gangs are murdering people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Star Comes Out’s banishment letter, in full, to Gov. Noem (editor’s note, typos are his):
STATEMENT OF OGLALA SIOUX TRIBAL PRESIDENT FRANK STAR COMES OUT RESPONDING TO S.D. GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM’S BORDER ADDRESS TO THE JOINT SESSION OF THE S.D. LEGISLATURE (February 2, 2024)
First, I would like to say that I am an honorably discharged U.S. Marine that served tours in the Gulf War and Somalia, and currently serve as the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
This statement is issued on behalf of the Tribe in response to Governor Kristi Noem’s border address to the Joint Sesson of the S.D. Legislature on January 31, 2024.
Secondly, I would like to state for the record that the Oglala Sioux Tribe is a sovereign nation that is neither a Democrat nor Republican tribe; the tribe has to work with whatever administration, Democrat or Republican,that is elected into power.
The Tribe’s nation-to-nation relationship with the United States began when we entered into the Treaty of July 5, 1825 (7 Stat. 252) with the United States, which brought the Tribe under the under the protection of the United States. The Tribe is therefore a protectorate nation of the United States, not the State of South Dakota.
It is the United States that should be protecting the Tribe from “invasions,” if any actually exist within the meaning of the Art. 1, Sec. 10, Cl. 3 (“Compact Clause”) of the U.S. Constitution.
Thirdly, Governor Noem’s use of the term “invasion” as a justification to send S.D. National Guard troops to Texas under the Compact Clause in misplaced because:
Only entry plus enmity constitutes an invasion. The unlawful entry of people into the United States cannot be construed as an invasion. Nor, for the same reason, can the prospect of further illegal entry in the imminent future be so construed. [T]he unlawful entry of criminal groups into a jurisdiction by itself insufficient to constitute an invasion . . . .
Thus, calling the United States’ southern border in Texas an “invasion” by illegal immigrants and criminal groups to justify sending S.D. National Guard troops there is a red herring that the Oglala Sioux Tribe doesn’t support.
Fifthly, the Oglala Sioux Tribe also rejects the following statements by Government Noem in her address to the S.D. Legislature:
- NOEM: “We see the effects of Joe Biden’s failures at the border every day herein South Dakota. “
OST RESPONSE: The failures at the border are the result of both Democrats and Republicans to resolve border issues in bi-partisan legislation.
The truth of the matter is that Governor Noem wants the use the so-called “invasion” of the southern border as a Republican “crisis” issue to help get former President Donald Trump use it as a campaign issue to get re-elected as President, and in turn increase her chances of being selected by Trump to be his running mate as Vice-President.
Governor Noem should instead join Senator John Thune and other senators and congressmen to support the bi-partisan border deal in Congress. It is the best deal that Republicans will get even if Trump somehow manages to get elected as U.S. President again.
- NOEM: The drug and human trafficking pouring over the border devastate our people. Make no mistake, the cartels have a presence on several of South Dakota’s tribal reservations. Murders are being committed by cartel members on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in Rapid City, and a gang called the “Ghost Dancers” are affiliated with these cartels.
We in state government do not have the jurisdiction to unilaterally intervene and provide law enforcement support to our tribes. That is a treaty obligation of the federal government.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe sued the federal government. They pointed to evidence that the level of violent crime, drug trafficking, and gang activity on the Reservation is staggering, unprecedented, and overwhelming law enforcement resources. A federal judge ordered the Biden Administration to come to the table and work with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to provide the desperately needed law enforcement resources. But Biden has failed to make good on that obligation, so now the Oglala Sioux Tribe is suing again. They said that these crimes were being perpetrated primarily by “non-Native” individuals. They’re talking about the cartels.
OST RESPONSE: Drug and human trafficking are occurring throughout South Dakota, and surrounding states, not just on Indian reservations.
It is true that the Tribe has filed two lawsuits in federal court alleging that drugs and gang activity on the Reservation is over whelming law enforcement resources. But this is a result of the future of the U.S. Government to fulfill its treaty obligations to the Tribe. But it isn’t only Biden that is to blame for not complying with the court’s order; Biden only signs bills passed by both houses of Congress. It is the gridlock, primarily caused by the Republican controlled House of Representatives that has refused to pass a budget that would allow for more police officers on the reservation. The same problems, lack of adequate funding for reservation law enforcement, also existed under the previous Trump Administrator.
- NOEM: The cartels are using our reservations to facilitate the spread of drugs throughout the Midwest. In particular, fentanyl – which is being manufactured by the Chinese and smuggled over our Southern Border – is causing these [overdose] deaths.
OST RESPONSE: Drugs are being spread from places like Denver directly to reservations as well as off-reservation cities and towns in South Dakota. Reservations cannot be blames for drugs ending up in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and even in places like Watertown and Castlewood, S.D. This was going on even when Trump was President.
In closing, believe that many of the people coming to the southern border of the United States in search of jobs and a better life are Indian people from such places as El Salvadore, Guatemalan and Mexicao and don’t deserve to be dehumanized and mistreated by people like Governor Abott and his cohorts. They don’t need to be put in cages, separated from their children like during the Trump Administration, or be cut up by razor wire furnished by, of all places, South Dakota.
I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served honorable in foreign wars to protect the freedoms of all Americans, even Indians throughout the nation. I don’t to see our Indian people and reservations used as a basis to create a bogus border crisis just to help Trump get reelected President and Governor Noem his running mate as Vice-President
Lastly, I agree with Noem’s statement that “we are a nation of laws and not men.” At least we should be. This is why the United States and the State of South Dakota should be honoring our treaty rights within our Sioux homelands, not constantly trying to degrade and diminish them.
 Joshua Trevino, The Meaning Of Invasion Under the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Texas Public Policy Foundation, Nov., 2022, pgs. 7-8).
 Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) (“[The] government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men’).