Reservation Death Leads to Speculation - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Reservation Death Leads to Speculation

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The propane shortage on the Standing Rock Reservation has been forcing many people to conserve heat. But conservation may not be enough to keep people warm.

The propane shortage on the Standing Rock Reservation may have caused the tribe's first weather-related death of the year.

I think it's really hard to know that we lost someone so close. It's definitely hard.

But tribal officials are saying it's not definite that a Fort Yates woman found dead in her home Tuesday morning froze to death.

It's under investigation by BIA and by the Sioux County Sheriff's office. There is an autopsy going on right now and no results will be available until Friday," says Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault.

Archambault says out of respect for the family, they are not releasing the name of the woman or her address. And he says he can't confirm if she ran out of propane before she died.

Was there any propane? I don't know. I can't answer that question for you right now. Did she die because of cold weather, being no heat? I don't know," he says.

But residents say they think a lot of people are underestimating the cold, even with the state of emergency.

"Most of them don't realize how cold the weather is, and most aren't checking their propane, not really doubling up on their blankets," says Jessica Pleets, Standing Rock Resident.

Archambault says they're looking internally in the tribe to see if there's any way to help people who don't receive low-income heating assistance.

We won't know an official cause of death until Friday when the coroner releases the autopsy results.

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