“We are still in Phase One,” said Blackfeet Public Information Officer James McNeely on Monday, Nov. 16. “We’re looking at Phase Two, but that’s down the road a while. We want to not jump the gun and remind the public to stay the course and be vigilant. Everything that’s being done is for the protection and well being of the community.”
Blackfeet Incident Command announced over the weekend that directors and administrative assistants will be coming back to their departments, but the Tribal Offices remain closed to the public.
“The Tribal Offices/Departments are not opening to the public. In consultation with the Tribe’s Public Health Officials, it has been deemed safe to bring the directors and their administrative assistants back to work to take care of essential program business such as vendor payments, reports, etc.,” the notice states. “The Tribal Office is still closed to the public with the exception of essential services. If you need assistance, you may call (406) 338-7521.”
Folks may also contact the various departments by phone or fax and conduct their business, McNeely added.
In addition, the Tribe has moved to assist the homeless community on the Reservation by opening the Crystal Creek Lodge to them.
“Per Tribal Resolution, we are working with Crystal Creek and the homeless population,” said Lyle Rutherford, Director of the homeless program. He notes the program follows Crystal Creek’s procedures, and that folks who want to access the program may present themselves at the door and be given details for their stay. More information is available at 406-338-6330.
With the program having just begun and the folks who they aim to help being, by definition, more or less without internet, the response so far has not been large. “Now we have limited numbers,” Rutherford said, “so I’ve reached out to the courts and my colleagues, and the staff at Crystal Creek to get the word out, and on Facebook as well.”
At present, Crystal Creek Lodge can house up to 20 people, and the program mirrors other moves by the Tribe in that it is open to all. “Transients and anyone else, with a screening, are welcome. They’ll find a bed, showers and a warm meal. It’s open to anybody,” Rutherford said.
In the event of overcrowding, he expressed confidence more space will be created elsewhere.
As of Saturday, Nov. 14, there were 36 active cases on the Reservation, with nine being hospitalized. Since March 15, there have been 1,053 cases with 995 having recovered. There have been 27 deaths.