In the face of rising COVID-19 numbers, not only in Montana and around the U.S. but also in Blackfeet Country, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council and Incident Command announced extending the Stay-at-Home order until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. Public Information Officer James McNeely reported that as of Friday, Nov. 20, there are 70 active cases on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“So with the holidays and Thanksgiving coming up, we need to stay vigilant and follow the rules of social distancing, wearing masks and staying within your own cohort,” he said. This should be made easier thanks to the Thanksgiving turkey dinner distributions held in Browning and the surrounding communities that began last Sunday and continued on Monday, Nov. 23.
“I want to thank everyone who helped with the Thanksgiving distribution,” McNeely said. “The Tribal Council, the Food Distribution Program, Manpower and even the CDC workers helped out. Calvin Hill of the Blackfeet United Methodist Church also collected snow gear for kids that was given out at the same time, and thanks to everyone who helped deliver to each community.”
As is always the case, Thanksgiving is followed closely by Christmas, so the Blackfeet Tribe is planning another holiday giveaway around mid-December. That distribution will include a ham dinner with the trimmings, as well as gifts from the Toys for Tots program. Both distributions, McNeely noted, are aimed at keeping folks out of the stores and dining with their immediate families, safe from possible infection.
Earl Heavy Runner and his employees from the Blackfeet Food Distribution Program began putting the Thanksgiving packages together on Friday, Nov. 20, at the Stick Game Building. They aimed at creating 3,500 turkey dinners to giveaway with around 30 people at work on the project. Half the building was devoted to the Thanksgiving event while the other half held COVID-19 supplies since storage space at the Commodity House is completely filled. He said around 4,400 hams have already been brought in and stored for Christmas.
Finally, McNeely said the Tribe has decided on $75 per capita Christmas payments that will be mailed out to members the first part of December.