Oglala Tornado Victims Need Your Help

How to Help

Subject: Oglala Tornado Disaster Update

Dear Friends,

Thanks to many of you, we've been able get a start on our disaster relief collection for the people of Oglala who were hit hard by the June tornados. Much more is needed, and we intend to keep up the work for quite some time. Please distribute this message widely. We need to do all we can to help our relatives at Oglala, especially the elderly and the young.

We've gotten the Red Cross survey results and have found the damage to be far more extensive than our earlier report. A total of 101 dwellings were completely destroyed by the tornados. Additionally, over 200 dwellings had such severe damage that they are considered unsafe to occupy until major repairs are made.

After our initial collection of goods, Kirby Henderson and the kind folks at A-1 Relocation in Aurora, Colorado loaded up a semi and we took a lot of needed supplies directly to Loneman School in Oglala. That is the center of relief collection and supply for the Oglala Community. Stanley Looking Elk, the Vice Chairman of the Oglala District, looked after the supplies. Stanley expressed his sincere thanks for all those who have donated goods, funds, time and other resources.

We got around the Oglala countryside to see the severity of the damage. The houses that were destroyed by the tornado have been completely removed from the scene. In some places, small tents have been erected where the houses were, and those who choose not to stay in the dormitories are camping out until better housing becomes available.

Many of the displaced are staying in the dormitories at the high school in Pine Ridge, some twenty miles from Oglala. Others are sleeping in Loneman School. And others have crowded in with friends and relatives. Conditions are difficult for so many.

The situation promises to get much worse when school starts and the dorms and gymnasiums must be cleared. The hope for quick availability of temporary housing is rapidly fading as the federal government gets bogged down in delays. They had planned to get 200 small trailer homes into Oglala, but the timing is uncertain. In the meantime, Stanley Looking Elk and others think it may be necessary to obtain tents for temporary dwellings.

We were given 25 sets of bedroom furniture by U.S. West (many thanks), but will have to keep it in storage at A-1 Relocation until Oglala can find a place for it. We've gotten donations of good supplies from many sources, as far away as Alabama. We've gotten monetary donations, mostly from the Denver area, but also from several places across the country. We use the funds to purchase supplies and to pay for transportation expenses.

We're going to continue our collection efforts for the people of Oglala for the indefinite future. We're disappointed that Oglala received such scant attention in the media. We need to keep the needs of Oglala a public issue for as long as we can. And we need your help with that.

Please take the time to notify your friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances about the real needs of Oglala. During the President's visit to Pine Ridge, you heard that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the poorest place in the country. It was poor before the country's economic boom, and it has not improved a bit during these so-called "good times."


Critical needs continue to be baby formula, baby clothes, diapers, other baby goods, dishware, silverware, cooking pots and pans, towels, blankets, pillows, sheets, personal hygiene items, cleaning products, trash bags, paperware, plasticware, tents, lanterns, flashlights, batteries, camp cots, canned foods, non-perishable foods, paper towels, toilet paper, canvas/plastic sheeting, folding chairs, sleeping bags, stackable containers, ice chests, thermos jugs.

Do not send clothing, furniture or large appliances at this time.

Goods can be dropped off at the following Denver-area locations:

  • A-1 Relocation, 11701 E. 33rd Avenue, Aurora, (303)364-2684
  • Denver Indian Center, 4407 Morrison Road, Denver, (303)936-2688
  • City Moving & Storage, 481 S. Arthur Ave., Louisville, (303)666-2121
  • T. Michael Installation, 7178 N. Washington, Denver, (303)286-7950

Send checks and money orders (payable to Oglala CDF) to:

  • Oglala Community Disaster Fund
    Norwest Banks of Colorado
    Attn: Tania Reading
    1740 Broadway
    Denver, CO 80274

For further information, contact Ben Sherman at (303)661-9819 or (303)620-9292, Rose Brave at (303)447-8760, or Margaret Tyon at (303)936-2688.

Mitakuye Oyasin, "We are all Related"

Submitted by: Ben Sherman, Chairman
Western American Indian Chamber
1900 Wazee Street, Suite 100n
Denver, CO 80202
(303)620-9292 Phone
(303)664-5139 Fax
e-mail: [email protected]

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