I have been trying unsuccessfully to reach my Lakota friends who live near Allen, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation ever since the blizzard hit western South Dakota on Wednesday. All I have been able to get is the rapid “circuits busy” signal. I know from a few other sources (Rapid City Journal online, Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation and especially One Spirit) that conditions on the reservation are dire. 20 foot snow drifts could literally cover a residence out on the rez.
I have even tried to go to KILI radio online, since they are usually very good at letting you know what is happening on the rez. But even KILI has been silenced online. There have been widespread power outages and I know that is a major problem. I thought KILI had a back up generator, but perhaps it is only for actual radio broadcasting and not enough for additional computer power. I suspect, with many roads still not cleared, there may be no one in the building. I may never know.
I have found it very difficult to be unable to hear any news of my friends, especially since they had moved into a new house – if you can call that building a house – in the past week. With no heat, no indoor plumbing, no furniture and maybe 10 blankets, they had a major battle to fight, if they stayed there during the blizzard.
It’s really difficult to be 2000 miles away from people you care about and be unable to know how they are weathering the storm (so to speak). As much our communications have been revolutionized, we are still at the mercy of mother nature.
If anyone out there has any information on the Allen/Kyle area of the Pine Ridge Rez during the past blizzard, please let me know. If you are interested in the information I have found, check out:
The Governor of SD has declared a state of emergency.The Office of Emergency Preparedness has begun airlifting out people of the rez who are on oxygen and/or dialysis. They have started in the community of Wanblee and hope to expand to the rest of the communities today, including Evergreen and Porcupine.The Red Cross will go in today with blankets and supplies as are needed and as they are able to access the various areas. They will be following behind the plows. They will also be working very closely with the various government agencies.
ONE SPIRIT RESPONSEWith the generosity of One Spirit people, we have been able to provide food and wood to families and elders; gas for people with 4 wheel drive to deliver food and wood and to reach those who live in outlying areas; and other emergency supplies, i.e. batteries, water, blankets, and food for animals. Because of the wood program, our arrangements for food, and our processes that provide people on the reservation with the ability to respond to emergencies, we were able to provide effective support during this urgent need. We have been in regular contact with the American Red Cross and will be working with them after this emergency has passed to solidify plans for meeting emergencies on the reservation.
We are blessed to have been in a position to help during this emergency. What is important now is to plan so that emergencies do not find us unprepared.HELP IS STILL NEEDEDWe are continuing to get calls to help people who are isolated and stranded without heat and food. Many in areas south and east of Kyle, the Wambli area, Long Valley, and outlying areas of Oglala. The people on the reservation who work with us are making wood and food deliveries as quickly as they can to prepare for the possibility of more snow tomorrow and Monday.Whatever you can do to help will make a difference now and as we prepare for the rest of the winter.In the past 24 hours since the urgent appeal for your help went out, you have responded with your open hearts and pocketbooks to the tune of over $2200. Your caring and generous hearts are sincerely appreciated. You are the kind of people who make this world a better place. On behalf of the entire staff of ONE Spirit and the Lakota brothers and sisters on the Pine Ridge Reservation, we humbly thank you!!
“Let us put our minds together and see what life we
can make for our children.”
I have a feeling what will be needed on the rez, when this is all cleared up, is the same thing that the Lakota have needed all along – a miracle. As I see it, the tribe as a whole needs the miracle – a miracle that brings innovative leadership, improved infrastructure and reignited cultural pride.
So please pray for some miracles for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Lakota people. And pray for some miracles for the people who are trapped in their homes in even more trying conditions than usual. Pray for the children and the elders, for those who are ill and for those who are cold.
And pray that the national media will discover this sad secret – that we have people living in such dire straits in the middle of our nation, suffering quietly but suffering nonetheless.