Yankton Sioux Tribe asks for help after another round of flooding

Published: Sep. 21, 2019 at 7:30 PM CDT
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The flooding took over parts of eastern South Dakota and for some, it's the third time this year. The Yankton Sioux Tribe is doing everything they can to help their people, but many homes were damaged due to the high flows of water.

When you drive on to the Yankton reservation the first thing you'll see is a teepee. It's a symbol with a lot of meaning, but in these dire moments, tribe members are asking for help.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe has been fighting off the water and lots of it coming from Lake Andes.

"We have a little too much of that water and its creating distress," Yankton Sioux Tribe Chairman, Robert Flying Hawk said.

Tribal leaders are doing what they can to help those affected, but with this being their third flood they don't know who to turn to.

"As elected leaders, we're asked what're you guys going to do? What's your plan? We've been working as diligent as we can with what we have as resources," Yankton Sioux Tribe Secretary, Glenford Sam Sully said.

Earlier this spring, Governor Noem helped the reservation and neighboring towns by raising the main road, but that's now back underwater so they're asking for the state's help yet again.

It's putting a strain on the emergency officials and their equipment.

"It just takes a toll on our patrol vehicles. I’ve spent quite a bit of money letting our leaders know and fixing repairs on our patrol vehicles," Chief of Police Willard Bruguier Jr. said with the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

Besides that, they are worried about their response times to emergencies if the roads are closed off by water. They say it's a life or death kind of situation.

So since no one has stepped in to help yet they have taken matters it into their own hands by building trenches to drain out the water. That hasn't been working, though.

"We're not engineers by all means and we did things on our own," Yankton Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman, Jason Cooke said. "We're not trying to trench the lake. What we're doing is trying to trench it out of the housing area because our basements are getting filled and this is our people’s homes. A lot of them don't want to leave."

"Some of these homes are way beyond repair eventually they'll probably be torn down," Sully said.

"The moisture is creating mold in the homes and affecting our breathing," Flying Hawk said.

But at the end of the day, the tribal members of the Yankton Sioux know how to stick together.

"They have all come out of their houses and chipped in a lot of man-hours the last few days," Bruguier said.

Tribal members say the flooding has affected their livelihood. Their land has been around for thousands of years and they say they just want to bring hope to the ones who come after them.