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SD Tribal Officials Saddened By Chavez Death

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died this week after a battle with cancer.   The U.S. Government labeled Chavez as an enemy.    But many in South Dakota see him very differently.

In 2007 Chavez and the Venezuelan oil company CITGO provided over 600-thousand dollars in heating assistance to Pine Ridge and several other reservations. That assistance continued on an annual basis each year.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray found that some tribal residents remember Chavez and are saddened by his passing.

In 2007 federal funding for heating assistance on places like the Pine Ridge Reservation fell through.  Tribal officials in South Dakota say that’s when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stepped up. 

“We needed the help and he had a kind heart to look after us and give us the funds we needed,” says Eileen Shot With Two Arrows.

Eileen Shot With Two Arrows runs the heating assistance program for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.    It’s one of many tribes that receive outside help from Venezuela on an annual basis.

“Every year if it wasn’t for him we would have been in really bad shape,” says Shot With Two Arrows. 

Shot With Two Arrows says she is saddened to hear about the Venezuelan President’s death.  She says this year the Rosebud Sioux Tribe stands to receive 300-thousand dollars in heating assistance from the Venezuelan oil company CITGO.