The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota is dealing with a winter weather emergency, as the forecast includes more extreme cold and dangerous wind chills.
Wayne Boyd, the tribe’s chief of staff, says Rosebud was hit with a snow storm last week and is continuing to deal with more than three feet of snow and cold.
“We have people out of propane, out of food, we have sick people. It’s quite an emergency.”
Robert Oliver, the tribe’s emergency manager, says they’re working around the clock to address the situation and open roads.
The tribe does not have proper equipment to remove the snow, and is seeking to obtain heavier equipment.
Oliver says some communities were without electricity for four days.
“At that time, they were starting to run low on food, wood, and their pipes were freezing.”
Oliver says people did not have dialysis treatment for up to five days. The tribe started to get people treatment on Saturday.
He says there are still communities on the reservation that need to be accessed. Those areas have up to 20 feet tall snowdrifts.
There are two shelters open on the reservation. Food distribution is being planned with the Feeding America organization. The tribe is in contact with the state, the Red Cross and federal agencies for assistance.
In the meantime, Oliver is asking people to take precautions.
“Stay home whenever those conditions warrant it. It is going to get cold. We don’t need anybody to get frostbite. It’s chilly out right now.”
Oliver says about 25,000 residents are being impacted by the weather emergency on the reservation.
An initiative by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is honoring tribal communities with highway signs in both English and Native American languages.
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community in Mole Lake is the latest, as WXPR’s Katie Thoresen reports.
No matter where you go in the country or state, highway signs for places are fairly uniform. Giant green signs with big block letters in white mark the location letting you know what town or city you’re in.
A new sign recently installed in Mole Lake prominently reads Sokaogan Chippewa Community with the tribe’s seal beside it. But different from the vast majority of similar signs you find across the state, this one includes the tribe’s name in their own Ojibwemoin language.
“Zaaga’inganiin. It’s a spiritual, cultural light that was in the water. It’s part of our teaching and our migration stories, teachings that came about a long, long time ago.”
Sokaogon Chippewa Community Chairman Robert VanZile was proud to unveil the new sign in a ceremony alongside community members and officials from federal and state transportation offices.
“It’s very positive. It’s heartwarming to see these dual language signs come to life. It’s an ideal that should have happened a long time ago, but it’s happening today and that’s a good thing.”
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community is the fourth tribe in Wisconsin to install a dual-language sign.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation launched the initiative in 2021.
Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson would like to work with all of the tribes within the state to get these signs up.
“It’s become a priority and bring back native languages. This is one way we could help and participate in that, but it’s also important for people in Wisconsin and people traveling through Wisconsin to know our history, know when they’re entering these sovereign nations, and to see it in the initial language. We think it’s important on all those fronts.”
And it is that sovereignty that VanZile hopes people will think of when they see that sign.
“I think it’s important to share our language, our culture, our identity, along with our sovereignty. When you have your language, your culture, and your identity you have sovereignty. That’s what we want to express to people.”
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