Cherokee Nation Offers Crucial Aid

Friday, September 22nd 2006, 10:35 am
By: News On 6

The Cherokee Nation is reaching out to help thousands of people on the East Coast suddenly without water. Gasoline has contaminated the plant that provides water to the entire reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says Cherokees in Oklahoma are pitching in.

Cherokee Nation principal chief Chad Smith: "we had our EMS, our emergency management people contact them and within minutes we had mobilized 4,000 gallons of water en route to North Carolina."

By early Friday morning, clean water was being handed out to nearly 2,000 affected families. Portable toilets were brought in, as health officials said water likely wouldn't be restored for several days. "It's a huge problem, the whole reservation, all their schools and municipal properties are shut down, so their whole water system was polluted and contaminated."

Chief Chad Smith says partnering with Wal-Mart; tribal officials were able to respond quickly to the emergency.

Smith says in the Cherokee culture, it's called “ga-du-gi”, a principle of coming together in a time of need and working to benefit the entire community. "So when somebody's in trouble we wanna be the first there to help out. They're our close kindred and we wanted to be able to be there to offer anything we could do to help them with that serious situation."