Four members of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council released a video update, detailing some of the measures being implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman Tim Davis encouraged viewers to continue wearing masks, social distancing and staying away from crowds. He noted anyone traveling off the Reservation to one of Montana’s “hot areas” will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. He said folks who are quarantined are receiving assistance from the Tribe, and those with no place to isolate are being housed in an East Glacier Park motel.
Davis said the Tribe is working on a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Health Service (HIS) to get access to more information, but said the agency has done more than 2,200 tests. He noted problems with turnaround times on results, but said folks can call the Southern Piegan Health Center to arrange a test.
Rodney “Minnow” Gervais addressed the status of the CARES Act funding. He said the Tribe must be very careful in following all the rules attached to the money, not only because there may be no more in the future, but also to avoid the Tribe’s making a mistake and having to pay it back.
Gervais pointed out, the Tribe has set aside $7 million for direct assistance to the membership. Divided by around 17,000 members, it comes out to about $400 per member. He said Blackfeet Manpower will administer the application process while Siyeh Development Corp. will administer the funding process.
The Tribe will also give out 2020 Census applications along with the funding application, urging members to fill out the Census form to assure adequate federal funding for the next 10 years.
Mark Pollock warned against large social gatherings, then addressed the issue of frontline workers dealing with solid waste disposal.
“People overlook garbage,” he said, noting that as early as last March when there were two active cases, the Tribe was aware of the risk posed to waste disposal workers due to a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Having delved into the CARES Act requirements, he found that garbage collection is a priority item in the funding so the Tribe has ordered PPE, new vehicles and bear-proof cans which should arrive sometime in the near future.
Finally, Lauren Monroe pointed out the mental health aspects of the pandemic, as well as a continuing need to supply food to folks stuck at home without work. He said the annual bow hunting season is going ahead as scheduled, and the rifle season will likely happen too.