FORT YATES, N.D. – Authorities believe hypothermia caused the death of a woman found dead Tuesday morning in a mobile home with no propane in its tank on the Standing Rock Reservation, where a propane shortage recently prompted an emergency declaration.
An autopsy was being performed Wednesday morning on Debbie Dog Skin, who was in her 50s, Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis said.
Dog Skin’s adult son, who lived with her in the mobile home in Sioux Village on the outskirts of Fort Yates, called the ambulance service about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after finding his mother unresponsive, Landeis said.
When the ambulance crew arrived, the temperature inside the mobile home was about the same as the temperature outside, 1 degree below zero, Landeis said.
It’s believed Dog Skin died of hypothermia, he said.
A portable heater in the home wasn’t working, he said.
A national propane shortage that has caused prices to spike during frigid winter weather prompted the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe last week to declare a state of emergency on the reservation, where nearly 90 percent of residents rely on propane for heat, KFYR-TV reported.
“It’s costing over twice as much as it did last year, and you get less for your money,” Landeis said.
The tribe has opened shelters in Fort Yates and Wakpala, S.D., for residents without adequate heat. The American Red Cross has provided meals at both locations and is also supplying cots and blankets, according to a statement from the organization.