Indian Groups Raise Money for Katrina Victims

Native American Times
Date Published: 
September 6, 2005

NIGA announces $1 million goal,
Cherokees send people and supplies

The National Indian Gaming Association [NIGA] has set a goal of raising $1 million for the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund, joining a growing list of Native American groups seeking to help.

NIGA officials say an account has been set up to collect funds from American Indian tribes to help provide relief for the hundreds of thousands of residents of the Gulf Coast states affected by the killer hurricane.

"This is one of the worst tragedies in American history which demands our full-scale attention and concern as these regions begin rebuilding their lives, communities and economies out of the decimation that occurred earlier this week," said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. "NIGA and our member tribes are absolutely committed to assisting in the relief effort and are asking all American Indian tribes to help in this dark hour. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims, the survivors and their families at this time."

NIGA spokeswoman Suzette Brewer said the agency is contributing $5,000 to begin the effort and is calling upon all tribes to help meet the $1 million goal.

Mississippi Choctaw Principal Chief Phillip Martin said that his tribe had been putting up tribal members and non-Indians from the coast at the tribe's casino hotel, but that they will be moved to other areas when the power returns.

"We’re going to do everything we can to find a place for them," said Martin. "But we have our hands full trying to get water and power back to the reservation. Clean water is of the greatest importance right now because so much depends on it."

Donations may be made to the Spirit of Sovereignty Foundation, attn:
Hurricane Katrina Fund, 224 Second St. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003.

For more information on how to contribute, please call Brewer at 202-548-3817 or email to sbrewer [at] indiangaming [dot] org.

Meanwhile the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is using its casino to provide relief. Officials say casino employees are volunteering to help survivors, food drives are taking place and casino profits are being donated.

"What we saw on the news was total devastation. Many men, women, and children will be without homes, food, and clothing for weeks to come. Our casino associates were quick to reach out to those who sought shelter in Allen Parish," said Stuart John, Interim General Manager at Coushatta Casino Resort. "The casino will continue its support for families In local shelters as needed."

In Oklahoma the Cherokee Nation has dispatched marshals, food and other supplies to hurricane-ravaged areas. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation's tribal council is donating money and health care items to the relief effort, and has actually adopted the Louisiana city of Bogalusa. The tribe is sending relief materials to the city.

The United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians is accepting donations to help Katrina victims housed at the Camp Gruber shelter in northeastern Oklahoma. There are over a thousand people still in the camp. Donations can be dropped off at the tribe's Tahlequah casino.

In Montana the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Belknap Reservation are giving away meat from at least 10 bison in the tribe's herd, said Janice Hawley, personnel manager.

"We are trying to do everything we can on this end to try and help out," Hawley said.

In Washington State the Chehalis Tribe is using their tribal office as headquarters to collect donations of baby diapers, baby food, baby formula, adult diapers, bottled water, blankets and clean clothes.

In Michigan the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians are holding an Indian taco dinner to benefit hurricane victims. Tribal officials have also vowed to match proceeds generated by the dinner.

The National Congress of Indians has already started its own fundraiser.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Indian Nations located in the region affected by Hurricane Katrina," said NCAI President Tex G. Hall. "It is times like this when it is important for Native people to come together to help one another out."

The NCAI encourages tribes who wish to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina to send donations to:

1301 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036
(Please put Hurricane Relief in subject line of check. All donations will go directly to tribes in the affected regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.)

Reprinted from Native American Times 9/6/2005