More than 20
members, vehicles and other equipment from the tribes will aide
in relief efforts
Quapaw Fire/EMS Team on the ground in Houston, Texas, to assist
in the Hurricane Harvey response. (photo courtesy Quapaw Tribe)
At least three American Indian tribes in Oklahoma have sent representatives
to the Houston area to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Nine members from the Muscogee Creek Nation"s Lighthorse Police
Force and one representative from the tribe"s Emergency Management
Services have arrived in the area and will be starting to help with
relief efforts on Wednesday, according to Lighthorse Police Chief
"It"s our duty to protect and serve," he said.
The team traveled down to the area on Tuesday, and started seeing
water across pasture land in College Station, Texas, he said. The
team will be deployed to flooded neighborhoods and will work to save
people who are stranded at their homes, Hawkins said.
"You see what these folks are going through. You see the images
on TV, but in person it"s something else," he said.
The Muscogee Creek Nation is the fourth-largest tribe in the
U.S. and more than five percent, or more than 4,000 citizens, are
located in Texas.
"Creek citizens live in the area," Hawkins said, "but protecting
the eight million others is also our job."
At least 20 people have died from the storm, according to The
Associated Press. Some places in the Houston area have seen more
than 50 inches of rain. The convention center in Houston has been
opened as a mass shelter. Another shelter is open in Dallas for
Cherokee Nation is assisting in relief efforts in Texas following
Hurricane Harvey. Nation members, from left, are: Cherokee
Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl, Deputy Marshal John Timothy,
Deputy Marshal Kevin Jackson, Deputy Marshal Dustin Davis,
Deputy Marshal Kolton Holmes, Deputy Marshal Preston Oosahwee,
Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John
Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Sgt. John Wofford,
Deputy Marshal Matt Laney, and Lt. Joe Rainwater. (photo courtesy
Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief James Floyd said in a statement
that whenever citizens are in need, the tribe has an obligation and
responsibility to lend aid.
"We are well trained and have the resources to help, it"s our
duty to react and do what we"ve been asked to do, for our citizens
and for everyone in danger or those who have been affected," Floyd
Hawkins said the team will be lending support at least through
the weekend and may travel to Louisiana if help is needed there.
"We"re putting ourselves in harm"s way," he noted, "but we have
no reservations at all."
The Cherokee Nation, based in Tahlequah, is also helping with
relief efforts. The tribe has set out with seven vehicles, two rescue
boats and a trailer full of ATVs on Tuesday to assist in the location
and rescue of Hurricane Harvey victims in south Texas.
In addition to manpower, Cherokee Nation Businesses has donated
$15,000 to American
Red Cross Relief efforts.
There are more than 3,000 Cherokee Nation citizens in the greater
Houston area and 1,000 citizens in San Antonio, according to the
"Anytime there is a need or a crisis, the Cherokee Nation has
grown and prospered, we have unique resources that even some states
don"t have," noted Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill
"We have folks that want to be deployed."
Tribal officials are staying on contact with citizens located
in the area, Baker said.
"I don"t care who you are, you"re one earthquake, one hurricane,
one fire away from disaster," he said. "It can happen to anybody."
Cherokee Nation"s Emergency Management Director Jeremie Fisher
is helping coordinate the tribe"s relief efforts after the state
of Oklahoma asked for assistance on Monday.
"There are still people stranded on rooftops and on cars, and
rain is still falling. Many Louisiana rescue teams are pulling out
of Texas to go back to their communities since they are in the path
of the tropical storm," Fisher said in a news release. "We have
a community base in Texas, and we want to be proactive in lending
our resources in every way."
The marshals" dive team, swift water rescue team and special
operations team also helped in other disaster zones, including the
EF-5 Joplin tornado of 2011 and Illinois River flooding. They also
were dispatched 12 years ago to help with Hurricane Katrina relief
"I thought Katrina would be my last hurricane rescue assignment,
so this brings about mixed emotions," said Sgt. Danny Tanner in
a statement. "We"re going in to do what we are trained to do, help
families and the people of Texas."
Baker said the teams planned to be deployed for two to three
weeks. He called it an honor for the tribe to have such highly trained
The Quapaw Tribe, meanwhile, has sent 14 men from the tribe"s
fire/rescue team Tribal Marshal"s Office and Canine Unite.
The teams rescued 21 people during their first day on Tuesday.
They also saved four dogs and three cats, according to Jeff Reeves,
Quapaw Tribe Fire Chief, in a news release.
"It"s a tough task with lots of hazards alligators, snakes,
and rising water," Reeves said. "So we have to stay focused to keep
ourselves safe, keep each other safe, and to save as many people
as we can."
Reeves said he was not sure how long the teams would be in the
area. Instead, they would stay "as long as we"re needed," he said.
Quapaw Chairman John Berrey noted that the tribe has needed
its own help in the past, such as the 2011 Joplin
tornado and other tornados.
"I"m always so proud of our people for the way they respond
and help in a bad situation," he said in a statement.