Thu Dec 6, 2012, 07:49 AM
OmahaBlueDog (10,000 posts)
Kos: Propane Project
Propane Project: Help the people of the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations get through this winter
For many low-income members of the Lakota people of South Dakota, among them the Brulé on the Rosebud Indian Reservation and the Oglala on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the region's often brutal winters mean more than just a little discomfort. Unable to afford to keep their propane tanks full and often with no alternative other than inadequate, sometimes unsafe portable heaters, everyone suffers, but as usual children and the elderly get the worst of it in temperatures that can plunge to 20° below zero or worse.
Since ice storms devastated South Dakota in the winter of 2009-2010, Kossacks spurred into action by navajo and the Native American Netroots have raised thousands of dollars to supply those who need it most on the reservations with propane and small, high-output heaters. That first year, Keith Olbermann, then still at MSNBC's Countdown and himself a Kossack, saw one of the diaries and took the issue to his audience. He also chastised the Senate Indian Affairs committee for ignoring the situation, naming it to the top slot one night of his "Worst Persons in the World" feature. Ultimately that year, because of Olbermann's mention, nearly half-a-million dollars was raised for overall South Dakota relief. Some $250,000 of that made it to the Cheyenne River Reservation, once home to Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, Sitting Bull.
The current situation isn't anywhere near as bad as in January-February of 2010. But then autumn still has nearly five weeks to run. Even so, night-time temperatures have dropped below freezing several times already. That's why we launched our fourth season of fund-raising for the propane project earlier than usual (at the beginning of American Indian Heritage Month) before winter really sinks its claws into the region.
The ongoing problem on the reservations of South Dakota is political, tied to poverty across all ethnicities in America but with its own unique attributes. South Dakota government's often malicious indifference to the tribes, the federal government's underfunded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), tribal governments' favoritism and ineffectiveness—part of a long-standing conflict that put a few hundred of us at Wounded Knee in '73—and the invisibility of Indians to many mainstream charities all contribute to a situation that puts some Lakota at risk of freezing to death. Winter aside, the socio-economic statistics of the reservations are all too well known, an unemployment rate that is 10 times worse than the nation's. Grim health and education figures. Soul-crushing, as Aji has so aptly termed it. This could be turned around if the will to provide jobs and decent housing and a sustainable economy could be generated. But until the day the political obstacles are removed for that to happen, this annual fund-raiser is essential to—literally—save lives, to extend some warmth to people who would otherwise spend a cold, cold winter outdoors and in.
More at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/19/1163018/-Propane-Project-Help-the-people-of-the-Rosebud-and-Pine-Ridge-reservations-get-through-this-winter
The only problem with what Kos proposes is that none of the entities they site are 501c3 charities. This means, for example, that if you are lucky enough to work with a company that matches donations, or if you simply need to shed some end-of-year cash for tax purposes, this isn't for you. I found a link to a 501c3, but I know absolutely nothing about it. If you have any suggestions on good charities that provide heat assistance for rservations in the northern plains, please let us know.
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