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.