SD leaders ask Biden to approve major disaster declaration requests from tribes

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 11:49 AM CST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dakota News Now) - Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune and Rep. Dusty Johnson expressed support for major disaster declaration requests from the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

In two letters sent to President Joe Biden, the delegation wrote in strong support of the tribes’ declaration requests, which were in response to extreme blizzard conditions affecting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Rosebud Indian Reservation last month.

“As you are aware, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 allows federally recognized Native American tribes to directly request an emergency declaration from the President through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Administrator,” wrote the delegation.

“As the disaster declaration request indicates, tribal officials responded to the storms using resources immediately available to them,” the delegation continued. “The emergency operations conducted by the tribe reduced the storms’ impact and accelerated the recovery of tribal communities. Despite these efforts, a number of tribal members remained trapped in their homes and were unable to access necessary supplies.”

Many families in tribal communities were cut off from critical supplies, including medications and propane and firewood to heat homes, when these areas received up to three feet of snow and drifts up to 20 feet high, according to Mike Rounds’ office.

The full text of the letter supporting the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s request can be read here and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s request can be read here.