Dakota: Less than a minute of air time. That's all Keith Olbermann
needed to help 14,000 Native Americans on the
Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. There, the people
were suffering one of the worst — and
most ignored — natural disasters to hit the
U.S. in years
In January, the Cheyenne River Reservation
suffered dangerous ice storms and
blizzards. The storms knocked
out 2,500 utility poles and disrupted electricity
and heat for 14,000 people. They were forced to live
in sub-zero temperatures for nearly two weeks. Many
homes were damaged. Food spoiled, and supplies dwindled.
Pleas for help seemed to
fall on deaf ears.
Most of the media ignored this crisis,
Despite calls for help from the Sioux Nation, only
$8,000 in donations had been raised by Feb. 9.
That's when Keith Olberman at
MSNBC took notice. That night Olbermann talked about the tragedy and the
reservation's need for immediate help. He called it a
"humanitarian crisis at home."
The result? Within 48 hours, more than $250,000
in donations had poured in from around the country.
Soon, 95% of tribal members had electricity.
However, the storms'
effects will be felt for a long time. Donations will
Repair homes damaged
when water lines froze and broke
Fund emergency command centers
Pay for blankets and pillows."
"I know there are hard economic times across
the country and those who are able continue to
respond with prayers, money and muscle to help our
neighbors in Haiti," said tribal chairman, Joseph
Brings Plenty. "I find myself in the humble
position of appealing for your support in our time
of emergency. I would not ask you for assistance
unless I was confident we are doing all we can. We
The 2,700,000 acre Cheyenne River reservation
is among the nation's poorest. It's unemployment
rate is nearly 85%.
Olbermann's Cheyenne River Disaster Relief Fund: