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Chairman Thompson asks GF&P to intervene for tribe

By Debi Ruiz

April 1, 2020

Crow Creek Tribal Chairman Lester Thompson, Jr. has submitted a letter to Tribal Liaison Ron Skates of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in regards to Army Corps of Engineers boat ramps and out-of-state fishing.
The letter read, “As you are very well aware, Indian Health Service clinics and hospitals are in no shape to handle any COVID-19 outbreak that could hit a tribal community. And as such, every precaution should be taken to ensure the health of those communities is preserved and protected. But due to the disunity of state plans of actions, tribes are being left to address actions taken by outside entities that could seriously harm their own people. Thus, Minnesota and Iowa have taken actions to close their parks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus but South Dakota and the Army Corps of Engineers has not. The result has been a flood of Minnesotan and Iowan fishermen avoiding their state directives to stay home and coming into South Dakota to fish, possibly bringing COVID-19 with them. This has alarmed the tribe and has put the Fort Thompson community in a very precarious situation. Contact with the out-of-state visitors is practically impossible to avoid. The tribe’s gas stations are not able to close because they are considered essential and all it takes is just one COVID-19 carrier to infect the entire community and overwhelm the IHS facility. There is an influx of fishermen from within the state, primarily from the Huron area that frequent our waterways.
With Beadle County reporting multiple cases, their presence becomes a threat of spreading the virus. The tribe’s elders are sacred!
Therefore, as chairman, I am asking you as tribal liaison of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to intervene on the tribe’s behalf and ask that the Army Corps of Engineers close all access points to the Missouri River within or adjacent to our tribal lands, including the recreational parks (Joe Creek and West Bend) that are within our tribal reservation boundaries. If we are to ‘flatten the curve,’ we must ensure everyone complies.”
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe also issued a public notice on Monday, March 23, stating the administrative offices of the tribe would be closed to the public. Those desiring entry to the main tribal administration building were encouraged to call in advance and set up an appointment.

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