Winter is far from over in South Dakota and there are many more families asking for firewood to stay warm. The temperature is up to 1* as of this writing.
The pun is the last refuge of the challenged writer, but there it is.
This volunteer writer for One Spirit lives in the Rockies of Colorado at 8650 feet elevation, on lands that once belonged to the Arapahoe. It was the Arapahoe who gave the area near my home the nickname of “the place where the wind gets its revenge.” This winter, this is not an inaccurate characterization. In fact, pretty much every year sees winds continually blowing nearly all the time from late October to May.
Actual temperature this morning- not including wind chill.
We are so grateful to all who have donated to our Wood for Home Heat program. Because of your kindness, we've been able to deliver wood to the many Lakota families who have asked for our help.
In case you missed it, here is the Huff Post article that ignited the giving: Native Americans Who Can’t Afford Heat Take Desperate Measures To Stay Warm
Extreme Weather Hits Pine Ridge
It is now bitter cold on the Reservation and the forecast is for it to continue. The people are out of wood and those who are disabled are much in need of our help. Many people on the Reservation are amputees due to diabetes and many more are struggling with cancer and heart disease.
Watch a small video on CNN.
Sub-Zero Temperatures, Few Resources
During the winter on Pine Ridge, temperatures often drop to 40 below zero. That means without adequate protection, frostbite can occur in as little as 5 minutes. Even indoors, hypothermia is a constant threat, especially for young children and the elderly.
But it's not just about lack of wood or propane. It's about poverty.
Hunger interferes with the body's ability to stay warm.
With over 80% unemployment, there are few resources. Parents on the reservation often have to make the choice between paying for heat and being about to buy food for their children. Throughout the winter months, we continually receive urgent requests for assistance. Calls come in daily from families and elders whose only source of heat is wood.
The Wood Program works in partnership with the Lakota to bring heat to families and elders and repairs and winterization for houses where it is most desperately needed. It also provides employment to an area where jobs are scarce. Through the program, Lakota men and women have a means to not only earn an income, but also a sustainable way to care for their people.
Thanks to your support, Lakota men and women have been cutting and splitting wood to prepare for upcoming community needs. With your help, they have also been able to construct a storage facility to maintain wood reserves, keeping the supply easily accessible and protected from harmful moisture.
Keeping Safe and Warm
To continue gathering wood for the long and cold winter months ahead, the wood program also needs funds for gas for delivery, tools such as chain saws, log splitters and safety equipment.
$150 provides enough wood to keep a family or elder warm for three weeks in really cold weather and helps the Lakota earn money for their families.
Your help keeps families and elders safe and warm this winter.
"The best accomplishment cannot be measured by money alone. The men have made a stand for their community and in a place where there are almost no chances of making a living, these men will earn a few dollars for their families in a good way."
John DuBray, Program Manager for eastern Pine Ridge
The arrival of Spring on the Pine Ridge Reservation has the customary trappings of Spring everywhere: trees begin to bud, a few hardy plants begin to push out of the snow and ice, and the warmer weather brings a profound sense of relief.