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The United Church of Christ gathering place for Indian people.
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I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.
On Thursday January 22, 2010, a severe ice storm hit South Dakota creating a disaster area on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation in South Dakota. People woke up Friday January 23, 2010 to no electricity, no heat but they still had water. As the morning progressed the ice storm build-up on the power lines combined with the high winds brought down 6,000 poles and 12,000 people were without electricity. Every effort is being made by the South Dakota Rural Electric Association and Tri-County Water to restore these basic essentials to the reservation. Due to the power outages the water treatment plant that supplies almost the entire Cheyenne River Reservation lost power. Back-up generators were brought in, but they malfunctioned and the system that runs the filters failed, as a result of this the plant was pumping water in but not out. This flooded the basement with about a million gallons of water and then froze shutting down all the equipment inside. The system has since been repaired but the water needs to cycle through with the added chemicals to be safe to drink again, and the estimated time for this is a week to 10 days.
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The Dakota Association is heavily involved in providing assistance to especially the outlying remote communities including Bridger, Red Scaffold and Cherry Creek. Thanks to the team of Byron, Toni Buffalo and Louie Blue Coat we have been able to acquire and deliver supplies to the folks. There are shelters in each community which are being served fairly adequately by Tribal resources, but many refuse to leave their homes. These are the people about which we are most concerned. The worst of the storm is over the lights are turning of for more people in and around Eagle Butte, but there are communities like On-The-Trees, Green Grass, and White Horse that are still dark and without water.
With CRST setting up shelters around the reservation, the majority of the assistance is being given to the individual’s who are staying at the shelter. With a reservation that consists of around 2 million acres, there are many families who do not want to leave their rural homes. There are some families who may not have transportation to the shelters. The Dakota Association is concentrating it’s relief efforts on the Cheyenne River to those families who are not staying in shelters and thus are not receiving much help in the area of food and water.
It is with a most appreciative and humbled heart at the outpouring of financial assistance that has came from not just those who have donated to the Dakota Association and their efforts but also to those organizations that have given directly to the Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe. We, as an association of churches, recognize that Christ is at work among us, even during our trials and tribulations and it is friends such as you that put Christ into action and enable us to take that message out to those who are suffering, feeling hopeless, needing help and finding that help through our ministry.
The Dakota Association has received donations from the South Dakota Conference United Church of Christ, the UCC National Disaster Relief Ministries, Armin Schmidt-former Executive Director of the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM), the Warm Embrace Inc, of Liberty Missouri, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Atlanta, Georgia.
In our Lakota language, Lila Wopila or (many thanks) your love and generosity cannot be repaid but will never be forgotten. You will be in our hearts and prayers and we ask that our Creator to bless each and every one of you.
The kingdom of God is within you.