‘A State of Emergency’: Native Americans Stranded

‘A State of Emergency’: Native Americans Stranded

On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, extreme weather and bad roads have left some residents stranded for nearly two weeks with limited food and water.

Officials with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which administers the reservation, say they lack the training, manpower and equipment needed to deal with such a large-scale crisis. And there’s a pervasive sense on Pine Ridge, a place of long-strained relations with the state and federal governments, that help has been woefully slow to arrive, and that few people beyond the reservation know or care much about its plight.

“This is a state of emergency right now,” said Henry Red Cloud, whose family’s losses in the flooding include five homes, a forklift, a truck, a van and the building where his solar energy business was based.

Pine Ridge was far from alone in being hit with damaging quantities of snow and water this month. Huge portions of the Midwest were swallowed by rivers in the last 10 days, with devastating consequences for farms, roads and small riverfront towns. So far, at least three people are confirmed to have died, and the affected states have estimated that they have suffered more than a billion dollars in damage and economic harm.

Outside help for Pine Ridge was conspicuously scarce at first. South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, has been seen by many Pine Ridge officials and residents as slow to respond. But Ms. Noem, who visited the reservation on Saturday, said that the tribe had only made formal requests for help in recent days, which she quickly approved. Since then, Ms. Noem said, the state had sent ATVs, a boat rescue team and a small group of National Guard soldiers to distribute drinking water.

The reservation, in the southwestern part of the state, is among the most scenic places in the Great Plains states. Pine-crested buttes punctuate the skyline, open prairie stretches for miles, and creeks wind through pastures and yards. But the vast distances, scattered population and relatively untamed terrain can make it difficult to reach people in blizzards or floods.

The tribal-led relief effort on Pine Ridge has been mired in challenges. Though employees pulled marathon shifts and slept in their work vehicles, there were simply not enough people or equipment to reach everyone needing help, residents said. Julian Bear Runner, the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s newly elected president, said many had voiced frustration with the tribal government’s response.

The crisis on Pine Ridge is a collision of nature, poverty and inadequate infrastructure. No sooner were Pine Ridge’s highways mostly cleared of snow than temperatures shot up, and the rush of newly melted water overflowed from creeks and rivers. The flooding — the worst in at least a generation, several residents said — turned the rugged dirt roads that many people live along into a liquefied mud soup.

Adding to the urgency, late last week about 8,000 residents lost drinking water.

We are accepting monetary donations via PayPal. These donations will be used to purchase water, food, and supplies for the families stranded in their homes or displaced due to the flooding.

Donate today at: http://bit.ly/PineRidgeRelief

In response to a historic winter storm and flooding, local community members founded Pine Ridge Reservation Emergency Relief. In working in tandem with Oglala Sioux Tribe Emergency Management,  this organization works hard with the help of members and volunteers to help individuals. This work is dedicated to funding and delivering charitable services and goods. We strive to inspire and improve the lives of those who need assistance in times of emergencies and natural disasters. Get in touch to learn how you can make a difference with this Emergency Relief Organization.

This week all proceeds at evohemp.com will go supporting the Pine Ridge Relief Organization.

For more info visit: https://www.pineridgerelief.org

Article sourced from The New York Times: http://bit.ly/PineRidgeFlood