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Tribes blast South Dakota governor's claim that leaders are benefitting from drug cartels

Relations between South Dakota tribes and Republican Gov. Kristi Noem have long been strained, but they have become even more contentious recently as Noem has pointedly criticized tribal leaders, accusing some of profiting from drug dealing and questioning their commitments to children on reservations.

In speeches at community forums, Noem has slammed leaders of the tribes in the state as being more interested in hurting her politically and profiting from drug cartels than improving the lives of children and others amid persistent poverty on reservations.

''We've got some tribal leaders that I believe are personally benefiting from the cartels being there and that's why they attack me every day,'' Noem said at a forum last month in Winner. ''But I'm going to fight for the people who actually live in those situations, who call me and text me every day and say, 'Please, dear governor, please come help us in Pine Ridge. We are scared.''


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