HUMAN RESILIENCY INSPIRING IN WAKE OF OKLAHOMA TORNADOES
Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations provides emergency aid to Absentee Shawnee Tribe.
Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations (Goodthinking), a non-profit organization with a vision to help First Nation’s People living in third world poverty across North America, was preparing for a trip to Crow Creek Reservation in Buffalo County, South Dakota – named the poorest county in the United States in 2000 – when tornadoes ravaged parts of Oklahoma. Upon hearing of the devastation, the Elders at Crow Creek contacted Executive Director Alex (Kisa) Jimenez and requested that Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations take the infant care products, hygiene products, clothing, blankets and other necessities already packed up in the box truck, to Oklahoma instead. Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations was able to honor the Elders’ request through the generosity of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Tribe in California, and many supporters.
Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations Director spoke with George Blanchard, the Governor of the Absentee Shawnee tribe in Oklahoma, prior to departing for Oklahoma. Governor Blanchard said the tribe and many other tribal members of the region had been devastated by the tornadoes and had received little to no help. Tribal affiliation include Arapaho, Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Delaware, Jicarilla Apache, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Pawnee, and Shawnee. The lack of help was apparent as Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations arrived and noticed the absence of the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Salvation Army and other large organizations that had the largest presence in Moore, where media coverage was prominent.
Upon arrival, Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations was graciously greeted by Governor Blanchard. Governor Blanchard and his wife Sue Blanchard were very hands on and dedicated to their tribe and surrounding non-Indian community.
They were helping people every day from early morning to late evening. Throughout the 14 day stay, Goodthinking worked side-by-side with Governor Blanchard, Sue and their family. During this time, Goodthinking was the only organization that came to help and stayed to assist the tribe. Goodthinking assisted in setting up tent cities (where people who have lost their homes seek refuge), clearing debris, keeping the small Absentee Shawnee relief open and getting provisions to those who had no means of transportation to come to the relief center.
“We used the Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations box truck to pick up provisions and deliver to tribal communities andsurrounding non-tribal communities. Governor Blanchard and Sue (his wife) tierlessly worked to get provisions from larger organizations, Red Cross and Salvation Army who we never saw set up to help on the reservation. Sue worked with the Red Cross, before they left Oklahoma for other projects, and the Red Cross offered to give the tribe the diapers and cleaning products they had left over (they had to move the products since they were leaving the state).”
One elder drove to the relief center to pick up a case of water, since the public water was not safe to drink after the tornados. She said she only needed one case even though she was offered several (it was very hot). When asked if her home needed any repairs, she said there was only a small hole in her roof but they were ok. Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations offered to drive out and get a tarp for her. The woman then confessed that an entire tree had crashed through her trailer. She had not received any help up to this point (weeks after the tree fell). This is the humbleness, strength and resiliency that Goodthinking 4 All Our relations reported seeing time and time again. One family who had little damage, opened their single-wide trailer home to two additional families. One farmer used his heavy machinery to help clear debris. Another couple made bologna sandwiches for people every day to share what they could offer.
“Those with the least seemed to be helping the most,” Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations said.
We were amazed when the Governor Blanchard’s wife Sue announced that after two weeks of long negotiations she got Nike to deliver a 40-foot trailer of Nike apparel exclusively for the tribal children (Nike specified that a Certified Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card was required).
“Most of the people we met in the area were caring people who were helping one another, unfortunately not all,” said Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations. “Some were getting provisions donated for those in need and selling them at flea markets. The biggest issue we saw was the large organizations including some religious used this tragedy as a public stunt or event, they did help but we saw them set up many trucks and trailers with huge logos on their vehicles where the media was and appear as though they were helping allot because they really care, however as soon as the media was gone so were they. They left a small group of five or so and no one helped the Tribes/Natives or folks who lived in the areas around the tribal territories.”
Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations also noted that there were cell towers put up in the wake of the devastation that could be seen from the Absentee Shawnee territory (about three football fields away), but they were facing the direction of Moore and no one on the other side had access unless they drove the distance to face the towers.
We think it important to say that many are in serious need and will continue to be,” Goodthinking 4 All Our Relations sid. “They lost all they had: their home, all their possessions , their cars, and they have nowhere to bathe or go to the bathroom; and they are getting very little to no help.”
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See our article via Indian Country Today.
Good Thinking 4 All Our Relations Addresses the Needs of Impoverished Tribes, the ‘Seemingly Forgotten’