Red Lodge Steps Up: Food and supplies for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Photo by John Potter What began as a few items on the tabletop at the gazebo at Lions Park, Red Lodge, quickly grew into a gazebo-full of donations.

Across the country, Native Americans are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control showed that the incidence of coronavirus cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 3.5 times that among white people. 
Nowhere is this more evident than on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, less than a two-hour drive east of Red Lodge, where the Tribe is suffering devastating losses. This last week alone, 14 Tribal members passed away, 11 of them to Covid-19. The pandemic’s impact is worsened by a desperate lack of resources: from masks and hand sanitizer to food. 
Upon receiving the call to help, the Red Lodge community stepped up to donate food and supplies or to drop off financial contributions. They were gathered and stacked at the Lion’s Club Park Pavilion, last Thursday, Sept. 17 and then driven to the Reservation. The first food and supplies drive took place on Monday, Sept. 14.
Among those helping is Gerald Sherman, Oglala Lakota, from the Pine Ridge Reservation, now a resident of Bear Creek. "This gift of food from the Carbon County community is really significant,” Sherman said. “Food is one of the most important things that low-income people need. Having grown up in a poor family, I know that food is money. It is like money in your pocket. It is security. I know what it is like to go without food in the house. These food donations will get used and are healthy food. Organizations on the reservation provide needed services, but a gift like this is a direct gift that will go to families.  It is a gift from our table to theirs.  It is personal and it communicates our support to their families from ours."
Fiscal donations are extremely helpful, allowing leaders in the Northern Cheyenne community to respond as is most needed. It allows them to provide gas money for delivery of food, Sherman points out, or to provide programming for the Tribe’s youth, who are struggling as the isolation grows, many of them suicidal. “In short, it is an investment into traditional wisdom that is responsive, resilient and deeply knows the best answers in these times," he says. Donations needed include canned goods and other nonperishables, traditional foods and medicines (such as mint, echinacea, elderberries, and chokecherries), fresh produce, and frozen meat. Also, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. 
To donate money online, and to see a full list of supplies needed by Tribal members, please visit  www.yellowbirdlifeways.org.

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