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Rosebud Socked In, Indians Dying, Noem Not Responding

Governor Kristi Noem will deploy South Dakota National Guard troops to Texas for a fake mission and photo opp. Will she call up the Guard to assist with a genuine crisis in the middle of South Dakota, on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, where people are dying because people are still socked in from last week’s snow?

Within the last week the Rosebud Sioux reservation has received around 2-3 feet of snow, with the area around Mission landing with 34″. With roads blocked by drifts up to 20 feet tall and another system closing in, the situation is now dire.

Robert Oliver is the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST) Emergency Manager. In a phone call Monday morning, he provided an update on the situation on the reservation.

“We’re running short on a lot of equipment,” Oliver said. “Some of our equipment is breaking down. We have a lot of people out there who are needing propane, needing firewood, needing groceries.”

As of Monday morning, 120 families on the reservation, which covers land in five counties, were without propane. This has led water pipes to freeze, leaving these families not only without heat, but also without water to drink.

Due to conditions, we were told propane has only been able to be delivered to eight of those 120 families.

…Propane delivery is not the only reason these roads need to be opened. Families will also need access to food, and for some, medical needs are the highest priority. “I think we had like, five deaths so far,” said Oliver.

“It’s going to be a long process,” said Boyd. “But we’re working 24-hours a day trying to get to everybody — we’ve had some babies that had to be delivered, we’ve lost some lives” [Jacob Newton, “Rosebud Tribe in Dire Need Following Winter Storm,” KELO-TV, 2022.12.19].

Whether help is on the way from Pierre is unclear:

Asked if the tribe has been in contact with the Governor’s Office, Oliver said that he believes RST President Scott Herman has made contact. “We’ve been talking with Dave Flute (Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations) in Pierre — he is trying to assist us in any way he can, but it’s been a slow process,” Oliver said.

…KELOLAND News reached out to the Governor’s Office at 10:37 Monday morning, asking whether they had been in contact with the RST, whether a disaster declaration will be signed, and if the National Guard will be deployed. As of the time of publishing, they have not responded [Newton, 2022.12.19].

Perhaps Newton got no response because the Governor simply hasn’t hired her new press secretary to handle such hostile press inquiries. Noem did tweet Saturday that I-90 was fully open. Otherwise, Noem’s social media communications indicate she is more focused on the threat of China taking over America via Tiktok than on South Dakotans continuing to face mortal peril from last week’s snowstorm. The Department of Transportation did send out a reminder yesterday that dumping snow on the highway right of way is dangerous and a Class 1 misdemeanor.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-12-20

    Screw Pierre. Dispatching federal troops from Ellsworth would be the better course. An honor guard drove from Ellsworth to Elkton for my dad’s funeral, ffs.

  2. sx123 2022-12-20

    Was the gov in state for the blizzard helping with preparations?

    This blizzard was forecasted well in advance.

    Or is this a covid response moment here? Everyone do what they think is best for their families…

  3. scott 2022-12-20

    The last 2 1/2 years have shown us that Noem only cares if she will get MAGA Nation attention. Need I say more.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-12-20

    Mrs. Noem is a screaming racist who deployed Covid as a biological weapon so why would she give one whit about sending aid to reservations?

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-12-20

    She won’t ride in on her white stallion? Where is Lewandowski anyway?

  6. Margaret Westphal 2022-12-20

    All of this and she was just re-elected by a large margin. When will voters wake up and realize having a “R” behind a name shouldn’t be the only criteria for electing someone? Especially if they didn’t do anything positive in their first term. These voters should be ashamed.

  7. Vicki 2022-12-20

    This is disgraceful… but that’s par for the course with Kristine…

  8. Pam 2022-12-20

    I am not even from this state yet this is horrible to let people go without heat and food!! Why don’t the people who have means to clear the roads do so helping your fellow man?? This should have happened on day one!

  9. S Wood 2022-12-20

    I called the offices of Thune, Rounds, and Johnson- they all said they hadn’t seen local news and were unaware of the dire situation! Our representatives and governor are criminally negligent . Who do we know that can alert national news?

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-20

    With another big storm coming, a vortex with temperatures well below zero, this a tragedy waiting to happen. There are many people on the Rosebud living in very isolated conditions. Public services are not readily available on the reservation. The need for a state driven relief effort is obvious.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-20

    I hate to say it, Margaret, but we must take the voters’ overwhelming mandate of four more years of Governor Noem as an endorsement by a majority of South Dakotans of neglect of and outright antipathy toward American Indians.

  12. Nick Nemec 2022-12-20

    The blizzard was forecast to be one of the worse on record at least a week before it hit. At the very least a stand by order could have been issued to the SD National Guard. Suitable equipment could have been prepared, loaded and waiting for orders of where to report. Instead from this gang ***crickets***.

  13. P. Aitch 2022-12-20

    There’s a polar vortex with a Rocky Mountain Venturi effect wind 💨 coming out of the high country starting Wednesday night which is predicted to create the coldest wind chill ever experienced in Colorado history. To y’all it’ll only be 50 below but it’s never been that extreme here. As with any Venturi, the wind’ll be gone here in around twelve hours or so but it’ll spread out and blow on the prairie for up to a week. Christmas temps here in the 50’s.

  14. 96Tears 2022-12-20

    As we near the anniversary of the murder of Sitting Bull and the consequential Wounded Knee Massacre, we see in real time in this governor’s choices a continuation of policies aimed at dehumanizing and eradicating the First Americans. Noem is Evil Incarnate. It’s very sad that a majority of this state’s residents are too cowardly or too disinterested to stop her. With another polar blast on its way, the National Guard should already be located where they are most needed to save lives and reduce misery. She is giving us a lesson each day why the worst forms of racism are indeed systemic in South Dakota’s government and society. No wonder Noem doesn’t want that taught in schools because it indicts her sickening and lawless character.

  15. Loti 2022-12-20

    I think we Natives should have been more prepared. It does go back to leaders sharing the responsibility too. I know people that don’t do social media or much TV or radio and i do not know why. As a elder my family faced alot of hardship without assistance through the years. In some dire situations today, some people really do need help. Forget Noem, she seems like a useless leader, unless it involves sending the National Guard to the mexican border. Why did anyone vote for her? is beyond me.

  16. grudznick 2022-12-20

    Indeed, Mr. Loti, your advice is wise. As sovereign nations the preparedness is on those nations, but as dual citizens of the State of South Dakota there should be assistance provided by the state, and allowed by the tribes. I, for one, as an older fellow can understand how some of the people don’t have the facebooks and information to really be ready with more advance warnings. Now it is time to be mobilizing everybody to help those who need it, no matter where. People of my age don’t weather the cold well and time should not be wasted, action needs to happen now.

  17. Loti 2022-12-21

    As a elder native woman i only use email but keep alert through radio, news articles and weather apps etc. And yes Heads Up by leaders would save lives. I know of a few tragic situations that occurred but will never make the news. Perhaps there is another leader that people can appeal to besides the governor if assistance is needed in dire situations? I don’t know.

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