The seven tribes that make up the Sioux Nation are now fighting with federal and state authorities, who have deemed these checkpoints illegal.
A Sioux duty officer from the Cheyenne River told the Guardian on Saturday that commercial and emergency vehicles would be allowed through checkpoints, but nothing else. Some reservations have already refused bikers.
Crowds had gathered for the start of the 10-day event on Friday, with many bikers adopting a defiant stance towards COVID-19 restrictions that have drastically changed daily life.
“Screw COVID”, read the design on one of the T-shirts sold. “I went to Sturgis.
Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, supported Sturgis’ rally, citing that no infections were reported as a result of President Trump’s event at Mt. Rushmore last month. She also avoided a mask mandate and emphasized the idea of personal responsibility.
For Stephen Sample, a 66-year-old Arizona resident, who rode his bike to the event, the rally is a break from the mostly monotonous routine of the past few months.
“I don’t want to die, but I also don’t want to be locked up all my life,” he says.
Part of the crowd at Sturgis is made up of retirees and people in the age group considered to be at risk for coronavirus.
Business owners like bar owner Marsha Schmid, however, are trying to prevent her establishment from becoming a hotspot for viruses. She spaced out tables, offered hand sanitizer and reduced the number of staff at the rally in an effort to help contain the disease.
Other residents wanted the rally postponed, but the businesses insisted they needed the event to avoid any further economic ruin that would have taken place following the closures.