Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribal leaders urging members to take COVID-19 precautions seriously

May 4, 2020

SISSETON, S.D.—Leaders of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (SWO) Tribe are calling on their members to take social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders seriously in the wake of a new wave of infections on and near the reservation.

Sunday’s South Dakota Health Department report showed a combined 18 cumulative cases in Roberts and Day counties.

Late last week, Roberts County was reporting only four cases, and Day County none.

The Health Department report shows just five of the 18 infected persons in the two counties are classified as, “recovered.”

Tribal spokesman Tom Wilson says the reservation has a stay-at-home order in effect, but some are not taking it seriously enough.

Tribal Chairman Donovan White said in a Facebook live event that those who don’t follow orders could be fined or put in jail.

SWO Police Chief Chief Gary Gaikowski says if people don’t take the proper precautions, the Enemy Swim Housing District could become the state’s next, “hot spot” for cases.

He says tribal officers won’t hesitate to tow vehicles if they see an area where there’s a large gathering being held.