Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION The storm that came through Oglala on Saturday, July 21, heavily damaged 14 homes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Those displaced by the storm are now living with relatives and friends or are lodged at the Prairie Wind Casino, owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Storm Damage Leaves Families Homeless
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is scrambling to find housing for those displaced by July 21's storm. The additional task of finding housing for the homeless is in addition to ongoing overcrowded living conditions on the reservation in southwest South Dakota.
Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele made the following testimony before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs five years ago:
On our reservation, there are hundreds of families who live in overcrowded situations. It is not at all unusual to find a single family home occupied by two elders, their married daughter and her husband, one or two families of married grandchildren and three or four great grandchildren.
This results in 10 or 12 people living in a house that is built to house a maximum of four. Now, you don't see this situation reflected in the surveys of our housing entity, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing, and in HUD reports, because the adults in this family know that this type of overcrowded situation may violate HUD guidelines and could be grounds for eviction, so they have become very skilled at moving people into hiding whenever our reservation Housing personnel conduct surveys."
It is hoped that the FEMA trailers will be on site within two weeks.
Last week, President Steele was in Washington for other tribal business, but altered some of his plans by attending a meeting at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Interior. He petitioned both federal departments for immediate release of emergency temporary FEMA trailers to address the short-term and long-term housing needs for the families.
After these meetings, the Tribe was informed by Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent Robert Ecoffey last Friday that the US Department of Interior, through the BIA Regional Office, did respond to the Tribe's request of short-term FEMA travel trailers for emergency purposes, for the families who have sought shelter either at the Prairie Wind Casino hotel or with relatives, by confirming the assignment of thirty-nine (39) travel trailers, as well as reprogrammed federal dollars for the transport and set-up costs for these trailers and that the Bureau is in the process of forwarding these funds to the Tribe for immediate acquisition.
Ecoffey further advised that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has also waived the eligibility requirements for these temporary travel trailers so that all the families who were displaced will be eligible for the assignment of a temporary home. Upon receipt of this notification, the Tribal Home Improvement Program and the Tribal Treasurer's Office immediately initiated the procurement processes to expedite the transport, delivery and set-up of these trailers.
It is hoped that these trailers will be situated locally within two weeks.
posted July 31, 2012 7:30 am edt