Native nations respond to Hurricane Sandy

Nov. 2 — “We know a tidal surge of about four to six feet came into the Reservation. We still do not have electricity. We had our Tribal burial grounds halfway covered with water. Right now it is the electricity that is needed which is the issue. It’s getting cold and some of our elders don’t have ways to heat their home,” said  Shinnecock Chairman Trustee Randy King describing the situation on the Shinnecock Reservation on eastern Long Island after Hurricane Sandy. (

King reports that Tribal offices have been working to coordinate emergency relief efforts without power, mobile phones or the Internet.

For the Narragansett nation on Rhode Island, the Tribal Police Department Chief says, “I’ve been told that it’s going to be weeks before we get power. So our greatest need is to get generators so we can continue our government functions.” ( The Narragansett health clinic has been closed because there is no power, but the Indian Health Service is reportedly sending generators to reopen the clinic.

Ever since the first Europeans arrived on this continent, which they arrogantly named after one of their own map makers, Native peoples have been forced to endure every kind of outrage and oppression. Despite this, Native people and their nations have survived. One strategy that often was effective was unity and solidarity among the Native nations against this onslaught.

United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. has been coordinating a united response to this disaster for these and other Native nations. USET announced that Jerry Wheeler, the Seminole Executive Director of Public Safety, is sending a response team to New York to assist the Shinnecock and “help coordinate resources and assist with documentation for state and federal agencies.” (, Nov. 1) USET is working directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and organizations such as the Red Cross to ensure that the Native nations get the proper response to deal with this calamity.

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