In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, Native American tribes in South Dakota are setting up checkpoints to prevent access. Organizers with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally expect as many as 250,000 bikers to attend and the 80th annual event.
A spokesman for the Cheyenne River Sioux says thousands of bikers heading to the 10-day South Dakota rally will not be allowed through the checkpoints, according to The Guardian. The checkpoints are causing a rift with federal and state authorities which claim the checkpoints are not lawful.
According to an off duty officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux, the tribe wants to restrict access to their lands. The tribe only allows commercial and emergency vehicles. At this time, the tribe already refused entry to a number of bikers hoping to attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Around 7,000 Americans reside in Sturgis. However, many locals worry that the influx of hundreds of thousands of bikers may cause the virus to spike. Furthermore, they expressed concerns that attendees refuse to wear masks and do not practice social distancing.
The primary opposition to those attending the rally stands on the theory that the rally may cause a coronavirus spike. Several attendees at the event point out the general attitude towards current health guidelines. “I’ve not seen one single person wearing a mask,” bartender Jessica Christian said. “It’s just pretty much the mentality that, ‘If I get it, I get it.’”
Christian continued by adding: “In downtown Sturgis it’s just madness. People not socially distancing, everybody touching each other. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.”
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Governor Kristi Noem Weighs In
While a handful of the Native American tribes in the area oppose the massive gathering at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem believes the state can handle the heavy turnout.
Governor Noem supports Americans’ rights to make their own decisions regarding the virus. “That is exactly what is happening — we are allowing them to take control of our country in a way that we haven’t seen before, so we need a few people to stand up, read our history, talk about the importance of our Constitution and the fact that these governors need to recognize that they need to uphold those freedoms that we hold so dear and don’t know these people to take care of their families and make the right decisions and deal with this virus, much like we do every other challenge that comes our way and Americans tackle it together,” Noem said during an interview with Fox News.
She also points to the state’s numbers regarding the virus as to why she supports the rally. “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.”
[H/T Daily Mail]