CTUIR Board of Trustees issues new COVID-19 orders

By the CUJ

New orders that, among other things, close the Longhouse and set penalties for violations, were issued Monday night, March 23, by the Board of Trustees (BOT) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).

A list of six orders were listed in Resolution 20-028 adopted by the BOT at about 7:30 p.m. Monday following a work session that lasted more than three hours.

The order extends through April 28 and is authorized through the CTUIR Emergency Response Plan, which is being implemented by an Incident Command Team enacted March 2.

The Longhouse is closed. There will be no services or funerals at the Longhouse through April 28. Pendleton mortuaries are adhering to the standards set by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Failure to comply with any of the provisions of the resolution “constitutes an imminent threat to our public health” and “any person found to be in violation” will be subject to a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Tribal Police are authorized, at their discretion, to stop vehicles that are traveling throughout the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The only reason someone should be out is to get groceries, for medical purposes or to travel to and from a job that is deemed essential. Employees in that category are supposed to carry photo ID cards that Tribal Police are supposed to be aware of. Further, Oregon and Washington authorities are supposed to be aware of those employees who may be driving from residences in Tri-Cities.

“We are first asking for the community to comply,” said Incident Commander Chuck Sams III. “An officer could pull you over, but this is all out of concern for public safety and health.”

If necessary, a Tribal Police officer may escort a driver back to his or her home, or the officer could issue a misdemeanor citation. The Tribal Prosecutor or the CTUIR Office of Legal Counsel would, at their discretion, decide whether or not to proceed with criminal action.

“I want to emphasize,” Sams said, “that we are not trying to punish anyone. The reason for this enforcement is for public safety.”

The Resolution calls for other measures too.

People must maintain a distance of at least six feet and are prohibited to gather outside a home or place of residence for non-essential tribal, social and recreational events (parties, celebrations, services), no matter the size.

Catholic Church Services have been cancelled by the Arch Diocese. Father Mike Fitzpatrick can be reached at 541-969-6444.

Services also are cancelled at Tutuila Presbyterian Church. For more information, contact Lloyd Commander at 541-310-2137.

According to the Resolution 20-028, individuals are prohibited from doing business on the Umatilla Indian Reservation that are not consistent with those that are closed by the State of Oregon under Executive Order 20-12.

As of noon on Wednesday, March 25, Wildhorse Resort will close the casino, hotel, Cineplex, arcade, food and beverage, Wildhorse Golf Course, Nixyaawii Community Financial Services and Business Development Services. Wildhorse Resort, which operates businesses off the reservation, will also close Hamley’s Steakhouse, Hamley’s Western Store and Saddle Shop in Pendleton, and Birch Creek Golf Course eight miles south of Pendleton.

Arrowhead Travel Plaza and Mission Market are operating with skeleton crews. Other parts of the resort are “semi-closed,” including security, surveillance, resort/golf course maintenance, administration, finance, and custodial.

“WRC feels it is complying with your Directive and the Governor’s Executive Order,” Wildhorse CEO Gary George told the BOT in a memo. “WRC will continue to maintain a clean and sanitized property that protects our staff, our guests, our tribal membership and our community.”

When individuals need to leave their homes, the Resolution states, they should at all times maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any person who is not a member of their immediate household to the greatest extend possible. People may need to comply with other social distancing requirements issued by Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center as well.

As for going outside, Tribal members can still exercise their rights reserved under the Treaty of 1855. It will be okay to go outside for recreational activities like walking and hiking, but it won’t be okay to play basketball. The Resolution states that activities must be “non-contact” and, in fact, no activities are allowed unless you can maintain the appropriate social distance of six feet or more between individuals.