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Severe weather conditions call for action

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Native American Music Association (NAMA) is joining with NAMAPAAH Radio to provide emergency clothing, heating and utility assistance for elders, children, disabled and the sick living on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations in South Dakota.

According to a recent release, the NAMA is calling upon its international membership to donate funds to provide clothing to local churches and schools on the reservations as well as emergency heating/utility assistance determined by the application process of the Link Center Foundation’s primary program.

A task force of NAMA winners, nominees and volunteer staff in South Dakota will assist in filing emergency applications for those most in need of heat and winter clothing on the reservations.

According to statements released by NAMA and federal census reports, approximately 60 percent of elders on the Pine Ridge reservation have sole custody of their grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Additionally, many tribal elders in rural locations are not able to travel to town or their local CAP offices. As a result, they cannot obtain emergency applications for assistance or they are unaware such assistance exists.

Federal LHEAP and Tribal Assistance Programs offer low-income families on average $300 per year. With propane at $2.20 per gallon and rising, this provides approximately 136 gallons – or enough fuel for 2 to 4 weeks dependant on weather conditions.

In addition, fuel costs have risen about 33 percent in the last year. The various propane companies providing service to the reservations are requiring a $120-$150 minimum purchase per delivery.

Useful links To donate through the NAMA, go to www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com on the Special Programs Page to make a donation. For more information on the LCF Elder heating/utility application process, visit the Link Center Foundation, www.linkcenterfoundation.org. A list of ministries, churches and schools to directly send clothing, blankets, boots, etc. is available by request via e-mail; Nammys@aol.com.

The average income on the Oglala Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation is about $3,500.00 per year and unemployment is approximately 85 percent due to scarcity of jobs. About 40,000 people live on the 11,000-square-mile reservation. The other Lakota Reservations are in similar economic situations.

Death by hypothermia also has long been a concern on the reservations. During the winter months between October and March, temperatures can drop below zero degrees. At times, families choose between food and heat. In some cases, they have neither.

NAMA states “While need is everywhere, particularly at this time of crisis, there are no greater needs than those of the elders, children, disabled and ill on these reservations. They have the lowest income, the least ability to gain funds, and often suffer from such serious health issues as to be severely impaired by the cold. Even worse, for the most part, they are the least able to travel to get assistance or to get someplace that might be warm.

“We are depending on you, the individual donor, to help us help these families in crisis.

“It is just unacceptable to have third world country conditions in the middle of America! We need to help them not only during this crisis, but throughout the entire Winter Season,” NAMA stated.

In a letter from NAMA President & Founder Ellen Bello, the president makes an appeal to help those less fortunate on these reservations. “The inspiration for our entire organization was given to us by the youth on Rosebud and Pine Ridge over 12 years ago. We are well aware of the difficulties and conditions facing those on Pine Ridge and Rosebud and it would be a wonderful effort for myself and our organization to come full circle and assist those there that are most in need. Not only in this crisis - but also on a continuing basis.

It just amazes me at times that the mainstream or others throughout the world do not realize we still have third world country conditions existing in the middle of America. Without Rosebud or Pine Ridge, there would be no NAMMYS today, and it is imperative that we make others aware of the hardships the Lakota face.”