Open Letter Supporting the Cheyenne River and Lakota Sioux From the Board of Directors, Earth Justice Ministries
June 11, 2020
Kristi Noem, Governor, Pierre, South Dakota 57501
Dear Governor Noem:
We are writing to you with our concerns for the health of your neighbors (and ours) on the Cheyenne River Reservation and Lakota territory. We are aware that the tribal government has taken steps to protect its people from the Covid virus by setting up some checkpoints on their reservation, to limit unnecessary travel through their lands, and to minimize possible exposure.
We are also aware that your office is working to prevent the tribal government from taking action to protect its people, including appealing to the federal government to help you enforce the state’s sovereignty over the sovereignty “guaranteed” through treaty for the Lakota and Cheyenne River people. The colonization of indigenous lands and the genocide of indigenous people by European nations and the “Indian Wars” of the Nineteenth Century are great sins in American history for which national amends and restitution are long overdue. There continue to be efforts to further dispossess and destroy Native American culture and its ability to exercise sovereignty and self-determination. Even now it appears to us that your actions are continuing those disgraceful attitudes and episodes from American history.
We are an organization whose mission is to “inspire, support, and connect our faith to actions that bring hope for Earth, for the human family, and the whole community of life. We seek to further the cause of peace, justice, and the healing of Earth.” Active peaceful resistance is the spirit and backbone of our work for justice .
Therefore, we earnestly urge you to continue to pursue friendly and cooperative negotiations with the tribal government to explore reasonable solutions that honor tribal sovereignty over their land and allow precautions for the health of the Native population, as well as other South Dakotans and other travelers who may have need to pass through tribal territory. Please avoid any further requests for federal enforcement or engaging in any violent or coercive activity against the Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux.
Brian Fry, Chair
For the Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries