The White House as declared a major public assistance disaster for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the declaration on Thursday.
The declaration comes after a spring of record flooding across the Midwest. The Pine Ridge reservation in western South Dakota has been among the hardest-hit areas.
Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner says the tribe is grateful for FEMA's response, calling their situation "dire."
According to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, spring storms caused an estimated $10 million in damage to Pine Ridge.
The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council chose to appeal directly to FEMA for public assistance disaster relief rather than joining with the state of South Dakota, which recently received a similar disaster declaration from the White House.
According to tribal officials, this is the first time FEMA has granted a federal disaster declaration directly to the Oglala Sioux Tribe independent of the state of South Dakota.
Chase Iron Eyes, public relations director for President Bear Runner, explained that, if somewhat risky, the decision to go it alone was also important. “Seeking this declaration is an expression of the inherent sovereign status of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,” Iron Eyes said. “And now we have crucial experience in navigating the logistics of the aid process.”