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Standing Rock and Rosebud Tribal flags to get displayed in state Capitol

Two lobbyists sit upon the third-floor balustrade railing set between two empty flag displays Tuesday evening.
Lee Strubinger
Two lobbyists chat on the third-floor balustrade railing set between two empty flag displays.

The flags of two tribal governments will get placed in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday morning.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced a ceremony to display two tribal flags during her annual state of the state address.

Three years ago Gov. Noem signed a bill to allow any of the tribes residing in the state’s borders to display their respective flags in a prominent spot in the state Capitol.

“We will hang the first of those flags: the flags of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe,” Noem said. “Our tribes are part of who we are as South Dakotans, and we will respect their heritage.”

The effort to display tribal flags in the Capitol rotunda have been years in the making. It goes back to before the governor signed the legislation into law.

In 2019, Noem announced a plan to permanently display tribal flags in the capitol. Several tribes refused when a few days later the Republican governor introduced a package of bills to protect construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. The legislative package came after the deadline to introduce bills had passed.

The laws were challenged in court and state lawmakers passed a pared down version of the bills a year later. The permit for the tar sands crude oil pipeline was rescinded in 2021 by the Biden Administration. But the effort to display tribal flags lives on.

Democratic State Senator Shawn Bordeaux is a Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud. He has introduced several bills to display tribal flags in the Capitol rotunda. Now, it’s finally happening.

“Which, I’m excited about because when I originally did the thing there was an argument about whether we could put them in the rotunda or not," Bordeaux said. "They said there’s a Capitol commission and they would decide where on campus they would be. I said I don’t want them hidden from somewhere. I want them in a premier space where everyone can appreciate that the nine sovereign tribes of the state are welcome here and are one with the state and this is our Capitol too."

It's unclear when the other seven tribes will agree to display their flags in the state Capitol.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.