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Governor Banned From Tribal Land After “Razor Wire” Border Comments

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem has been banned from entering the territory of the Oglala Sioux Tribe after making controversial remarks offering to provide “razor wire” to Texas for border security. Her comments sparked outrage from the Tribe’s President, who issued a sharp rebuke barring her from tribal lands predominantly inhabited by Oglala Sioux people. The move has ignited heated debate across the internet.

Tribal President Slams Noem’s Words

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Frank Star, released a strong condemnation of Governor Kristi Noem for saying she would send “razor wire” from South Dakota to Texas to help secure the southern border. In his statement, President Star officially “banished” Gov. Noem from setting foot on any of the tribal land belonging to the Oglala Sioux Nation. He criticized her words as dehumanizing towards immigrants and declared the tribe would not stand for such treatment, as they are a sovereign nation not affiliated with either major political party.

Source: Pinterest/AllPosters

President Star specifically took issue with Gov. Noem extending an offer to provide razor wire fencing materials to fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas during a recent Fox News interview. He rebuked the plan to aggressively fortify the border and said many immigrants coming over from Mexico and South America are indigenous people like Native Americans who are just searching for jobs and better lives for their families.

Governor Defends “Speaking The Truth”

In response to her banishment from the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s land, Governor Kristi Noem defended her past comments about problems like drugs and human trafficking coming over the loosely secured southern border into South Dakota. She said her words were meant to speak the truth about the “devastation” that illegal smuggling activity has caused within South Dakota, including on Native American reservation lands.

Source: Wikimedia/Awmcphee

While stopping short of an apology, Gov. Noem contended that her support for increased border security measures was not intended to blame local tribes for issues originating abroad. She reiterated that Native American groups suffer significant harm from cross-border crime and are also victims of the current unrestricted immigration policies.

Offered to Send “Razor Wire” to Texas

The specific remarks that earned Governor Noem her banishment from the Oglala Sioux Tribe came during a January 25th appearance on Fox News. While being interviewed by host Martha MacCallum, Gov. Noem voiced strong support for recent efforts by Texas Governor Greg Abbot to toughen security along America’s southern border with Mexico which Texas shares.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

In addition to praising Gov. Abbott for “doing the exact right thing” by trying to strictly enforce federal immigration laws, Noem also offered to personally provide as much razor wire fencing as he needed from her state of South Dakota. She also used the nationally televised interview to harshly criticize President Biden as being “out of touch” with mainstream Americans on the issue.

Indigenous People Seeking Better Lives

Aside from generally condemning Gov. Noem’s pledge to send razor wire border fencing down to Texas, Oglala Sioux Tribal President Frank Star also specifically addressed the background of many immigrants coming across the southern border into America. In his formal statement banishing Gov. Noem from tribal lands, he pointed out how a substantial number of border-crossing migrants are indigenous people closely related to Native American groups.

Source: MetMuseum/Public Domain

President Star noted that while politicians like Governors Noem and Abbott portray immigrants as dangerous threats, the reality is that many are simply indigenous individuals fleeing hardship and seeking jobs to provide better lives for their families. He emphasized these vulnerable people do not deserve harsh treatment such as declarations to confront them with razor wire upon entering the country.

Online Debate Ignites Over Decision

Just as immigration policy often polarizes political discourse across America, the move by Oglala Sioux leaders to ban South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from setting foot on tribal territory has become a hot point of contention among commentators on social media forums. Reactions have been passionate on both sides of the issue.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Many posts hailed the banishment as a brave, principled stand against dehumanizing rhetoric towards marginalized indigenous groups. However, others defended Noem’s right to speak in favor of strict border security measures. Some expressed predictions or even hopes that Noem’s rising right-wing popularity could carry her to the Vice Presidency in 2024.

Some Praise the President for a “Fantastic” Decision

While Governor Noem does have her online defenders, a significant segment of social media commentary expressed positive reactions to Oglala Sioux Tribal President Frank Star’s dramatic decision to symbolically banish her from reservation territory. Numerous posts and tweets welcomed the move as an act of ethical leadership in the face of controversy.  

Source: Wikimedia/Noah Wulf

Beyond just expressing support for immigrant groups, some backers also noted the important precedent of the tribe flexing its legal rights as a sovereign nation over land predating South Dakota’s statehood. They characterized President Star’s statement prohibiting Gov. Noem from entering the reservation as a reinforcement of crucial self-governance priorities.

Some Questions Banishment’s Practical Impact

Despite the array of social media posts conveying support for the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s decision to bar Gov. Kristi Noem from their lands, the announcement did have its skeptical critics as well. A segment of responses on platforms like Twitter downplayed the real-world significance of what they saw as only an empty symbolic gesture.

Source: Wikimedia/Public Domain

For instance, some comments centered on the fact that Gov. Noem does not have any immediate pressing need to visit reservation territory, limiting the practical effect of the high-profile banishment. Others even suggested that if rising conservative figures like Noem someday gain greater Federal power, they might pose serious threats to Tribal sovereignty.

Could Noem Be On a Republican Presidential Ticket?

While igniting quite a debate across American politics, Governor Kristi Noem’s very public banishment from Oglala Sioux territory has increased speculation that she could be an asset on a potential future Republican White House ticket. Some political analysts see the controversy around her staunch border security stance as boosting her name recognition nationally.

Source: X/NewCo

Assuming Noem wins re-election as Governor in 2026, there is considerable chatter that GOP leaders and voters looking for a Trump-aligned voice could end up making her a leading Vice Presidential possibility just two years later. Were she to become VP herself, a Kristi Noem administration could wield great influence over Native-American relations.

State and Tribe at Odds Before

While the high-profile banishment of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem from Oglala Sioux tribal territory certainly carries symbolic weight, it is not the first major conflict between the State government and the Native American tribes that hold jurisdiction over large areas of land within South Dakota’s borders. Disputes related to issues like environmental regulations, voting laws, education policies, health codes, and more have persisted for generations, with tribal leaders having to regularly reassert autonomy rights against external political pressure.

Source: Wikimedia/Arthur Rafton-Canning (1864-1952)

Just during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past few years, major disagreements flared up multiple times between Gov. Noem and tribal chairs over imposing restrictions, distributing relief aid, and managing protests on reservation land. The tribes continue retaining significant self-governance control separate from state jurisdiction.

Noem Banishment Foreshadows Future Conflicts Over Tribal Rights

The banishment of Gov. Kristi Noem from Oglala Sioux territory over her controversial border security remarks reflects broader ongoing divisions between state authority and Native American tribal sovereignty. It also brought Noem added national visibility as a voice for strictly conservative policies on immigration.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Looking ahead, it exemplifies disputes likely to resurface if she stays prominent in Republican leadership circles. Her rising political star could mean this tribal land dispute is just an early skirmish in long struggles over indigenous rights.

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Matty Jacobson

Written by Matty Jacobson

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