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indians at Rosebud Reservation
When I was a kid, growing up in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, getting snowed in and losing power was an at least annual event. And when I was a kid, those few days off the grid were an adventure. We had a huge fireplace in the living room at the center of the house. Mom would hang heavy blankets over the doorways in the living room and we'd keep that big fire stoked all day and all night. We camped out in that one room, reading, playing games, Mom and Dad playing guitar and singing. Water came from the snow melted on the hearth, and that's where Mom did the cooking, too.

For a little kid, that was great fun, camping indoors, or living like Laura Ingalls Wilder did. For my parents it was far from fun. The cattle feeding, show shoveling, cow milking, and firewood splitting and hauling had to be done. Not to mention figuring out how to keep the pipes from bursting in a freezing house. We all had to be fed and kept warm. But our parents took care of all that, and we were secure in the knowledge that they wouldn't let anything bad happen to us.

We were even more secure in the knowledge that it was all temporary, that the lights and the heat would be back on in a matter of days.

The little kids living on the reservations in South Dakota spend their winters without that sense of security, without the surety that the heat will come back on and they'll be warm and protected. Their parents and guardians have to live with the realization that they might be powerless to provide the most basic necessity: warm and safe shelter. That's no way for anyone to have to live, and that's where we come in.

For three years, Kossacks have been helping the people on the reservations directly, by buying propane and heaters to make sure the poorest of the poor survive the brutal South Dakota winters. Kossack cacamp, aka Carter Camp, wrote his comment in Meteor Blades' and Greg Dworkin's diaries, explaining from an on-the-ground perspective what our help means. Here's an excerpt:

I'm writing this mainly to let all of you who donate know that by doing it this way instead of through the Tribe or a traditional charity you are giving directly to the very neediest of the needy. Nothing goes to overhead or administration. It all goes to delivering propane to the people. Sherry and her business make nothing extra even though she would deserve some for the extra work it puts on them, things like answering phones and keeping track of the money takes time and effort but they only charge us their regular rates. It's her way of taking care of her people and showing her love for her Lakota Nation.

So thanks you my friends of this community. Your generosity is amazing to me each year and every year I speak to those you have helped and all of them tell me things about how the assistance arrived at just the right time to save them in so many ways. There is no way for us to thank each of you personally and your names won't be inscribed on any walls. But please know it is appreciated by my people, by parents who were worried sick about how to keep their kids warm until they saw Sherry's propane truck pull up into their yards and their prayers were answered... by you.
In Lakota I say; Pilamaye-tonka. Mitakuye-Oyasin.. Thank you.. for all of my relations.

We have an awful lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. At the top of my list is this community. When we nagged you for contributions to our Orange to Blue candidates, you stepped up to the tune of almost $3.2 million and 17 candidates elected, making it an election to definitely be thankful for. If you could come together to do that, you can come together to make this winter a lot less scary for a lot of people.

Please help, however you can. To find out how, make the jump below the fold. And thank you.

Since winter 2009-2010, thanks to the efforts of navajo, Native American Netroots and other Kossacks, low-income Indians at three Indian reservations have received propane and heaters to deal with the often-brutal winters of South Dakota. This is our fourth season of fund raising for this project, which literally saves lives because it catches people who fall through the cracks. Some have asked why we don't run this project through a regular charity. The reason is that our contacts on the reservations say they don't see the money when there is a middleman involved. That is why this is a unique project. You can learn more about the situation at the Rosebud Reservation, read some personal stories and see photos in Aji's post here.

Here is how you can help buy propane: The fastest way to help is to pick up the phone and call with your credit-card information. A family will get propane delivered either the same day or the next day.


Telephone St. Francis Energy Co. at:
Ask for Sherry or her mom Patsy, but others can help you also. Normally a minimum order is $150, but they have an account to accumulate small donations until they get enough for an full delivery. Credit cards welcome, and they are the only Indian-owned fuel company on the Rosebud. If you'd like to mail a check, make it payable to:

St. Francis Energy Co.
Attn: Sherry or Patsy
St. Francis Energy Co./Valandra's II
P.O. Box 140
St. Francis, South Dakota 57572


Of course, all the propane in the world won't do you any good without a heater. Many families don't even have working heaters—or ones that work safely. Every year, there are house fires as a result of malfunctioning heaters that people can't afford to repair. So if you're flush or you have a few friends who can put your dollars together, a heater would be really welcome this Thanksgiving season.
You can order a heater and the necessary accessories from Northern Tool HERE and have it shipped to:
Propane Heater for Rosebud reservation

Sherry Cornelius
St. Francis Energy Co.
120 N. Main Street
Saint Francis, SD 57572

Here's what you'll be sending:
• Mr. Heater Big Buddy™ Indoor/Outdoor Propane Heater—18,000 BTU, Model# MH18B
You also need to include these accessories:
• Mr. Heater AC Power Adapter for Big Buddy Heaters—6 Volt, Model# F276127
• Mr. Heater 12-Ft. Hose with Regulator for Item# 173635
• Mr. Heater Fuel Filter for Buddy™ Heaters, Model# F273699
Order Total of $235.85 (includes shipping)


If you live out of the country, please use our PayPal link at Native American Netroots. The donation button is in the middle right of the page. This process takes about two weeks for the funds to hit the reservation, so telephoning the propane companies directly is definitely the fastest way to help.

Photos show Rosebud Indian Reservation residents thanking Daily Kos donors for propane and heaters last winter.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Fundraisers and South Dakota Kos.

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