South Dakota’s governor, tribes remain at odds

April 3, 2024

PIERRE, S.D.–South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is facing criticism from tribal leaders. It’s the latest in what has been a history of strained relations between the Republican governor and the tribes in South Dakota.

In March during community forums, Noem said tribal leaders are more interested in hurting her politically and benefiting from drug cartels than improving the lives of children and others on reservations, where poverty is persistent.

Tribal leaders condemned her comments. Others drew a link between her comments and support for former President Donald Trump, saying Noem is hoping Trump elevates her as his vice presidential running mate.

In a statement released Tuesday, the governor said, “every time that a South Dakota tribe has asked me for assistance, I have done what I can, both while in Congress and as governor. I will continue to speak the truth, call out corruption wherever I see it, and fight to protect the lives of Native Americans in our state – because that’s what they deserve.”