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Rounds, Thune and Johnson Request Biden to Approve Major Disaster Declaration Requests of Tribes in South Dakota

WASHINGTON – Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) sent two letters of support to President Joe Biden regarding the major disaster declaration requests from the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST). If the president approves each tribes’ declaration request, it would expedite recovery efforts from significant weather events that occurred from December 12 to December 26, 2022.

“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.”

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. These areas received up to three feet of snow with drifts up to 20 feet high. As a result, hundreds of families in tribal communities were unable to access critical supplies, including medications and propane and firewood to heat homes. In addition to snowfall, wind chill temperatures dropped to -50°F in some tribal communities.

Read the full text of the letter supporting the OST’s request HERE and the RST’s request HERE.


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