Kristi Noem: Trump VP hopeful outlawed on six Native American reservations

Kristi Noem on a Fox News programme
Kristi Noem has faced bipartisan criticism over the past few weeks [Getty Images]

Two Native American tribes in South Dakota have barred its governor, Kristi Noem, from their land as she doubles down on derogatory commentary against tribal leaders and reservation life.

The latest bans add to existing exclusions from four other reservations this year. Ms Noem is now banned from nearly one-fifth of state territory.

It comes after the Republican cut short a disastrous national media book tour.

Ms Noem was once a frontrunner to be Donald Trump's running mate this year.

Less than three months ago, she topped a poll of candidates to run as vice-president for the November election. However, a crop of recent controversies, including a story of how she shot a pet dog, have drawn bipartisan criticism.

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Yankton Sioux tribes on Friday passed separate resolutions to prohibit Ms Noem from setting foot in their territory.

The tribes joined the Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux tribes in making the state's chief executive an outlaw on their lands. It means six of South Dakota's nine Native tribes are now refusing her entry.

Tribal governments have a sovereign right to exclude non-tribal members from their lands, with tribal law enforcement prepared to act if necessary.

A secretary for the Yankton Sioux, however, clarified to local media that the tribe has not "officially" banned the governor by a vote of its general council, but one by its business and claims committee, the main elected body.

As governor, Ms Noem, 52, has often been at odds with these authorities. While tribal and federal authorities have criminal jurisdiction over reservations, she has sought to expand state power.

She was banished in 2019 by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council after signing anti-riot legislation in response to Native-led protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, and then again earlier this year over rhetoric linking illegal immigration to crime on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The governor also ignored tribal objections to a 2020 fireworks display over Mount Rushmore and clashed with tribal leaders after they set up coronavirus checkpoints to control visits to their reservations.

Most recently, she alleged Native children "don't have any hope" because of absentee parents and suggested without evidence that tribal leaders were "personally benefitting" from drug cartel operators.

"Governor Kristi Noem's wild and irresponsible attempt to connect tribal leaders and parents with Mexican drug cartels is a sad reflection of her fear-based politics that do nothing to bring people together to solve problems," Janet Alkire, chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux, wrote in a lengthy five-page rebuke in March.

A spokesman for Ms Noem told the BBC that "banishing Governor Noem does nothing to solve the problem... she calls on all our tribal leaders to banish the cartels from tribal lands".

Kristi Noem speaks at a Trump rally
Ms Noem was an early endorser of Donald Trump's re-election [Getty Images]

It is the latest embarrassment for the former rising star of the Republican party.

In her new book, No Going Back, Ms Noem recounts how she shot dead her 14-month-old dog, Cricket, for bad behaviour. She also killed a goat she said smelled and was mean.

The governor said the shootings were examples of her willingness to do things that were "difficult, messy and ugly".

In another passage, later removed, Ms Noem claimed she had been to the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea and "stared down Kim Jong Un". No public record of either action exists.

She also claimed she had been "slated to meet with French president Emmanuel Macron" during a visit to Paris but nixed their sit-down over alleged "pro-Hamas" comments he made in the press.

A French government official said there was no record of a scheduled meeting or even an invitation.

Ms Noem has hit back at what she calls left-wing "spin", but her attempts at damage control have failed across the political spectrum. Several interviews have since been cancelled.

Last week, Mr Trump acknowledged Ms Noem has had "a rough couple of days" but said he liked her "a lot" and noted she "has been supportive of me from the beginning".

According to US media, however, Trump insiders say she has "killed her chances" of being his vice-president.