BELL : Indian Aid Group Needs Help Itself

A warehouse full of clothes, furniture, distilled water and other household items--relief for Native American reservations in Arizona and New Mexico--is in need of assistance itself.

Help is needed in the form of big-rig trucks, said Mel Cook of the nonprofit American Indian Ministries.

American Indian Ministries, which has made 50 to 60 such trips before, has two full trailers ready to make the trek across the Mojave. What's needed now are drivers, gas money and the rigs themselves.

"The Hopis are doing fairly well, but the Navajos are still very poor," said Cook, who has worked with American Indian Ministries since it was founded in 1977 to assist Native Americans nationwide. "I don't see the economic well-being on the reservations improving very much."

With that need now as great as ever, the organization is making three or four deliveries each year to the Navajo and Hopi reservations in northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico from its warehouse at 5600 Rickenbacker Road.

The 60,000-square-foot facility is filled to capacity with items collected from charitable organizations from throughout Los Angeles.

"If they (American Indian Ministries) have a need, we'll help them out. This facility has provided all types of non-perishable food," said Roger Maberto of World Opportunities in Hollywood, whose group collects non-perishable food and donates it to organizations such as American Indian Ministries.

Cook said that local Native Americans are also welcome to browse through the warehouse for items or clothing.

"There are about 78,000 Indians in the L.A. area, and all of them are welcome," Cook said. "One young man came in the other day from Minnesota, a Chippewa. It just goes to show the large variety of tribes represented in Los Angeles."

Information: (213) 269-7014.

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