Today I was out around different areas of the Reservation visiting various Aunties and other women elders who participated in the Maze of Injustice report research almost three years ago now. I’m disappointed because we are not able to visit everyone. There is so much flooding and flooding warnings as a result of 12 foot high snow drifts that some areas of the Reservation are inaccessible. The whole Tribal Nation of Standing Rock has been identified as a disaster zone. Many officers from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been visiting throughout the week and going on tours of flood damage with various members of Tribal Council–it has been an unfortunate distraction to the Maze of Injustice work this week.
Here are some pictures of the high water levels and the remains of areas where flood waters have left behind terrible destruction and debris.
As you can tell from these pictures, Standing Rock is a very rural Reservation with little access to regular amenities you find in big cities–including fast food, department stores, and even health care! Some women have to travel eight hours in either direction to get to the nearest Indian Health Service (IHS) facility. Even then, the facility isn’t always able to perform an examination because there aren’t enough trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s (SANE’s). Often women are transported to other facilities off the Reservation, forcing them to find and pay for their own way back home. The lack of adequate access to health care facilities continues to be a road block to justice for the women of Standing Rock. One can only imagine the number of women who will not be able to get to health facilities to be examined as a result of this flooding.
Fortunately, the winding road to Pretty Bird Woman House is still open, so I’ll be traveling there next to check in with shelter staff! Stay tuned….