Thousands of riders heading to a South Dakota motorcycle rally were to face roadblocks at tribal land checkpoints blocking their travel over fears of spreading the coronavirus.
Bikers on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally would reportedly not be allowed to cross Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints, according to a spokesman for the Native American group. The checkpoints, deemed illegal by state and local authorities, were set to prevent the bikers from access to tribal lands, citing fears that they could cause a spread of the virus.
A Cheyenne River Sioux duty officer told the Guardian on Saturday that commercial and emergency vehicles would be the only ones allowed onto reservation land through the checkpoints and bikers headed to the 10-day event which began on Friday had already been turned away.
In addition, the Oglala Sioux and many other reservations had also been preventing riders from access to the lands, as fears mounted that mask-free bikers could spark a regional COVID-19 outbreak.
Drivers who are not residents and driving non-commercial, out-of-state vehicles are normally blocked from entering the sovereign lands, according to Cheyenne River tribal guidelines, but with the rally taking place, even drivers of non-commercial vehicles with local South Dakota plates are being turned away.
South Dakota’s local and state authorities are now in a fight over the checkpoints with the seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation, while as many as 250,000 bikers are expected to attend the 80th annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis which has been supported by Gov. Kristi Noem,
Though the liberal media and other critics have raised the alarm over the event being referred to as a “superspreader,” the Republican governor avoided mandating masks in the state, pointing out that the Fourth of July event held by President Trump at Mt. Rushmore last month caused no new infections.
“The story and that needs to be told, is that I trusted my people, they trusted me, they took personal responsibility for dealing with this virus, and we are doing very well,” Noem told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” last week.
“Not only do we have one of the lowest death rates, we’ve got about 40 people in the hospital today statewide, our infection rates are low, our job losses are low, our economy is doing better than virtually any other state, and I think it’s a real testimony to what could have been possible in other states, but those governors just made the wrong decisions,” she said.
Meade County, where Sturgis is located, has had less than 100 reported infections.