MISSOULA - Northern Cheyenne tribal leaders have transformed their meeting chambers into an emergency warming shelter to keep people safe from the cold. They're asking for supplies, and a tribal member living in Missoula is running a donation drive to help.
Indigenous advocate Lauren Small Rodriguez is collecting clean coats, blankets and sleeping bags for the emergency shelter. She's lived in Missoula for the last six years, but she's a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. She wants to connect her communities to build a better future for her tribal family in Lame Deer.
"It's a need of a shelter. It's a need of better health conditions for our youth, our veterans, our families there," Small Rodriguez said. "Whatever I can do to help, you know is what I want to do."
The shelter currently has 24 cots in the meeting chambers. Small Rodriguez hopes to collect enough donations to cover all of them. She's inspired by her late grandmother, a matriarch of the tribe, who helped kids in need at the school where she worked for decades.
"She always told us whatever you have you give," Small Rodriguez said. "A lot of kids that didn't have socks...didn't have warm jackets, she would provide that.”
Small Rodriguez requests that all donations be washed before being dropped off, and is also accepting donations through a GoFundMe page. All donations need to be dropped off by Monday, January 7. Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:
Payne Native American Center 32 Campus Drive Missoula, MT 59812
Women's Opportunity and Resource Development (WORD) 2405 Macintosh Loop Missoula, MT 59801
MCPS Indian Education Department 215 South Sixth Street West Missoula, MT 59801
Imagine Nation Brewing 1151 West Broadway Street Missoula, MT 59802