For 20 years, we at Running Strong for American Indian Youth® have held our Heat Match program providing residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation with matching grants of up to $100. Combined with $100 they put in, families can raise the $200 minimum necessary to have a propane truck come to their home and fill up their tank.
We believe it’s a program that has saved lives during that time when temperatures on the reservations can drop to well below zero with wind chills in the negative double digits.
We know those temperatures can kill – and sadly today we report that two, a 24-year-old woman and a 54-year-old man, have frozen to death on the Cheyenne River reservation.
Nativenewsonline.net reported January 4, that both tribal members died within the past week due to being exposed to the extreme cold winter conditions on the reservation. A third man is reported missing and search parties are braving the cold weather to look for him.
On Pine Ridge, Running Strong field staff reported that it’s been “bitterly cold” for the last two weeks. Yesterday, they told us the air temperature was -9 degrees and schools have closed because of the frigid weather.
Through our Heat Match program, which runs through the end of March when temperatures on Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River can remain bitterly cold, we will continue to operate the program and we will hope and pray that no other lives are tragically taken by the frigid temperatures this winter.
You can read the complete report about the tragic deaths on Cheyenne River here.
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