Wanblee is in the Eagle’s Nest District in the north-east corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Sew for Kids

Native Sun News Today: Wanblee -- Quarantined without food

WANBLEE - At least two residents of the Eagle’s Nest district on the Pine Ridge Reservation have struggled receiving groceries while they were quarantined in their homes for possible coronavirus exposures.

Don Doyle, a resident of Wanblee, said that his house of 17 people was ordered to quarantine after his daughter had tested positive for the virus in mid-May. Doyle was told that his household’s propane and electricity bill would be paid, and food drops with grocery supplies would be made as needed. But, when groceries were needed, they were only dropped once. That one grocery drop lasted Doyle and his house 3 days.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe takes a similar stance to quarantining residents as other tribes in South Dakota. Families are not allowed to leave their household when ordered to quarantine and testing is regularly done. The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe even posts officers outside of quarantined households 24/7 and has daily medical checks while providing food drops and utility services.

When Doyle’s fridge was emptied, he began to call the contacts given to him for grocery drops. He left messages to those who did not answer, and was told the issue would be looked into by those few who did answer.

Source: www.doh.sd.gov

Posted by Oglala Sioux Tribe - OST on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Doyle was forced to borrow money and call in favors for people to drop groceries off during that time. “We have all these elected officials and during a time of crisis we expect them to be by their phone, but none of them are by their phone,” he said. “This virus doesn’t work Monday through Friday, eight to five, it’s working on Saturday and Sunday too.”

Doyle’s electricity bill was paid, but now he says the propane is reading empty and that any day it will run out.

Another Wanblee resident, Phyllis Swift Hawk, was asked to quarantine her household of 11 when her granddaughter had tested positive. Swift Hawk was promised the same treatment that Doyle was, but the only groceries that arrived from a government organization was commodities from Eagle’s Nest Chairwoman Cora Yellow Elk.

Yellow Elk could not be reached for comment.

Swift Hawk and her family was lucky to have the goodwill of family and friends in the community. Marti Bad Hand dropped off around $100 worth of groceries on the hunch that they would be hungry. One of Swift Hawk’s granddaughters also dropped off dried meat and fruit. But the food still ran thin in the house. “I had to give up my meals a few times for my grandchildren,” she reminisced, “but I had broth, and that’s okay too.”

Swift Hawk has been a resident of Wanblee since 1964, and has worked at Oglala Lakota College for 43 years. 67 year old Doyle was a member of law enforcement for 23 years, and his grandfather was a code talker in World War I and World War II.

“I did my part to protect the people of Eagle’s Nest and the reservation and this is a slap in the face,” said Doyle. “They could at least call me. I put my life on the line for 23 years and this is what I get.”


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