RAPID CITY, South Dakota — An agreement on law enforcement was reached Tuesday between Pennington County and four Sioux tribes that bought 3 square miles of land they consider sacred in western South Dakota's Black Hills.
In 2012, the Great Sioux Nation raised $9 million to buy land the tribes call Pe' Sla from private landowners. The tribes hope to put the land, also known as Reynolds Prairie, in trust with the federal government to be held on behalf of tribal members.
None of the tribes has a headquarters closer than a four-hour drive from Pe' Sla, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1JQ1LYV ) reported. The area is used as a ceremonial site by the tribes because of its role in tribal creation stories. They also plan to reintroduce bison to the site.
If the land is put into trust, tribal jurisdiction would apply. But the agreement would allow the county, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribes to handle law enforcement. If a tribal member is cited or arrested for a crime at the site, he or she would be prosecuted in tribal court, but non-tribal members would be prosecuted in other courts belonging to the local jurisdiction.
Sheriff Kevin Thom said he has some concerns about the agreement, which he called "a little confusing, a little mushy."
For example, it doesn't specify which party will be responsible for transporting a tribal member who's arrested by a county deputy at Pe' Sla to tribal court on the Rosebud Reservation, he said. It's also unclear if county deputies will be required to testify in tribal court, requiring them to drive several hours to the reservation, according to Thom.
"That creates some problems from an enforcement standpoint," he said.
But county commissioners still approved the agreement with a 3-1 vote.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com