Wearing 'Smallpox Blankets' Standing Rock Lakota say 'no' to casinos re-opening, as two coronavirus cases are reported
Article by Brenda Norrell
Photos by Dawn Wasin Zi
STANDING ROCK, North Dakota -- Wearing 'smallpox blankets,' Standing Rock Lakota and Dakota opposed the plan to re-open casinos. This comes as two coronavirus cases were reported after group testing at Standing Rock.
Avis Little Eagle, Standing Rock Lakota, said, "Today, our people held a protest in front of the Tribal Administration. They don't want the casino to open."
"They wore blankets to represent the smallpox blankets that were given to our people and decimated millions of Turtle Island inhabitants," said Little Eagle, founder of the local newspaper Teton Times.
"We are not expendables," read the signs. "Open the casinos and the tribal council has given us the death penalty."
They also supported Oglala Lakota and Cheyenne River Lakota in South Dakota, who maintained roadblock checkpoints to prevent outsiders from bringing in coronavirus. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is threatening legal action against the tribes over the roadblocks.
Oglala Lakota on Pine Ridge are locked down now for 72 hours after two members tested positive for coronavirus. In the border town of Rapid City, South Dakota, a worker at Walmart tested positive for COVID-19.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation conducted testing for coronavirus, resulting in two positive cases of the virus. Of the 482 essential workers and residents tested, one resident of Standing Rock and a second, a resident of Morton County, tested positive.
The COVID-19 test results come as Lakota and Dakota were protesting plans to open back up of the tribe's two casinos, Prairie Knights Casino near Cannon Ball and Grand River Casino.
Those testing positive are now in isolation. The results are as follows: Negative: 479; Positive: 2; Inconclusive: 1 (will be retested.) The U.S. Homeland Security, National Guard, North Dakota officials and Custer Health were part of the testing task force.
Little Eagle said there will be testing for Bear Soldier residents at the South Dakota Roads Garage on Thursday. There will also be testing in Rock Creek, Running Antelope, Wakpala, Kenel and Porcupine and Cannon Ball, dates to be announced.