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South Dakota’s nine Indian reservations exist as sovereign nations. But what does that mean? KSFY News talked with tribal, state and federal leaders about what it means to lead a nation within a nation.

Sovereignty may seem easy to define on paper, but in practice, it’s complicated. To some, it’s a feeling. A way of life.

“Sovereignty, to me, is something our grandfathers gave us. That we need to respect, because it’s a tool that protects us here in Indian Country,” said Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott.

It’s a way of life that involves an ongoing power struggle, colored by a history of eradication.

“The states, the government, they want to take that sovereignty away from us. They don’t want to acknowledge that Adolf Hitler got his ideas from the United States,” said Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Chairman Brandon Sazue.

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