South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is expanding the National Guard’s storm assistance mission to the state’s Indian reservations, where this week’s relentless wind and life-threatening cold have strapped resources.
After announcing Thursday that the Guard will be hauling firewood from the Black Hills National Forest to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Noem said Friday that the Guard would help the Oglala Sioux Tribe as well.
Tribal officials say snow drifts have formed as high as 10 feet, blocking roads and stranding families with dwindling supplies for heating and food.
Oglala Sioux President Frank Star Comes Out says his tribe is using snowmobiles and other tracked vehicles to reach people but that breakdowns and limited resources are leading them to consider using horses to deliver essentials to some homes.
Star Comes Out, sworn in as president earlier this month, says a lot of tribal members live in rural areas and that getting to them has been a challenge with some running out of propane and other fuel while also dealing with power outages.
Wayne Boyd, chief of staff to Rosebud Sioux President Scott Herman, says the tribe has had a least one storm-related death, a 12-year-old with a medical condition who died after medical responders couldn’t reach the home
Boyd says the death toll could be higher because some rural families haven’t been heard from in 2 weeks, so President Herman is hoping to have the use of a helicopter today to check on stranded families.