BIA, Tribe square off over legality of checkpoints

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BIA, Tribe square off over legality of checkpoints

Two 12-hour shifts of four officers man each of the CRST checkpoints at the reservation border. Here the night crew replaces the daytime crew at 8 p.m. north of Timber Lake on April 22. FRONT: Tommy Shaving, daytime crew leader; BACK (L-R): September Waloke, Gina Bruguier, and Max Lawrence of the day shift; and Brandon LeBeau, Seth Picotte, Daren Traversie (crew leader), and Ethan Nordvold of the night shift.

The top officials for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) have exchanged strongly-worded correspondence over the legality of the public health safety checkpoints put in place by the tribe at entry points to the Cheyenne River reservation on U.S. Highway 212 in an attempt to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

BIA Director Darryl LaCounte sent a letter Friday to Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier saying the state of South Dakota owns U.S. Highway 212 and the tribe cannot legally close or restrict travel on the roadway without first consulting with the state. He referred to a memorandum he issued on April 8 regarding temporary guidance for road closures or restrictions on tribal lands which states tribes must consult and obtain agreement with other road owners.

“We are becoming increasingly concerned that these requirements, and others, have not been satisfied to date by CRST, particularly with regard to roads that are not owned by CRST,” wrote LaCounte.





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