Pine Ridge: Help Needed

Take Action: Pine Ridge Needs Federal Disaster Relief!
Tue, Apr 2, 2019 5:52 pm
Chase Iron Eyes ( Details
Lakota Law

The Pine Ridge Reservation is flooded! The aftermath of Winter Storm Ulmer, which hit the Midwest on March 13th, is still wreaking havoc on the territory where I now reside.

Lakota Law
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Our tribal president, Julian Bear Runner, has been working around the clock with a barebones staff for the past two weeks to keep catastrophe from turning into apocalypse. I was honored to serve as President Bear Runner’s campaign manager last year, and I am all the more pleased that we have a leader of his character during this crisis.

Join OST President Bear Runner in calling for a federal declaration of disaster in South Dakota. Please send an email to President Trump today!

You can also assist in other ways. Here’s a page we set up, working directly with the OST president’s office, with critical information about help needed by the tribe.

I and other members of the Lakota People’s Law Project team have now set up shop at tribal headquarters in Pine Ridge to join the effort. Over the past several days, we’ve observed that 1,500 tribal citizens remain displaced from their homes and 75-100 structures have been damaged by the flooding. 500 people remain without access to potable water, culvert systems are plugged, and roads are impassable.

Pine Ridge now faces millions of dollars of damage. Recovery will take a long time.

Meanwhile, the tribe is woefully understaffed and under-resourced, which is why my team is in the process of recruiting grant support to assemble an even larger group of qualified professionals: engineers, skilled laborers, heavy equipment operators, grant writers, etc. This force will untangle the complicated web of prerequisites coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of South Dakota that must be met before they will provide assistance. We will need help from these institutions to navigate the waters ahead.

Yo Park in Pine Ridge, photo by Kimmy Blanco

In coordination with President Bear Runner’s office, our team will be issuing regular updates and press releases — please stay tuned.

I would be remiss to not point out that President Trump — even as many of our families lack potable water and medical support due to a climate-related catastrophe — issued an executive order on March 29th attempting to circumvent a Montana court’s injunction against the Keystone XL oil pipeline (KXL). As you likely know, KXL is slated to run through unceded treaty territory in South Dakota, over the protestations of my people.

Trump’s executive order is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to track them all. Whether or not he grants us emergency assistance for the flooding, we are going to fight him tooth and nail on KXL.

We will keep you posted as this flood relief work unfolds in the coming days. Please stay tuned, remain alert for calls to action, and pray for us.

Wopila! — Thank you!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
Lakota People’s Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859

The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.

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