COVID-19 Incident Command investigating weekend feast that drew more than 30 people

By the CUJ

Update: This story corrects information from an earlier version. Tribal Police are not involved in any current investigation involving a COVID-19 incident.

MISSION – The COVID-19 Incident Command Team is investigating a gathering of more than 30 people who attended a feast over the weekend at a home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, according to Incident Commander Chuck Sams.

Sams on April 27 told the Board of Trustees (BOT) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) that until this weekend, April 25-26, residents had been complying with stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations.

The Incident Command Team, Sams said, is investigating a feast that was exposed after photos were posted on social media.

Sams said individuals recognized in the photos included members of the CTUIR as well as members enrolled in other federally recognized tribes.

Sams told the BOT that none of the people who attended the feast were “here at work today” and that those who were identified were under a 14-day quarantine.

Board member Jill-Marie Gavin prompted Sams’ comments when she asked about compliance after seeing “a lot of people in town” over the weekend and “news showing people congregating out and about.”

Sams said he appreciated the Board asking the questions.

“We’ve been winning up until now,” Sams said, noting feasts that have been held in other places around the region that have “caused more consternation and potential for infection.”

Sams recognized the passing of Celilo fisherman Bobby Begay, who died from COVID-19 on April 24 after attending a Celilo Salmon Feast on Easter, April 12.

Sams said Yellowhawk is tracking CTUIR members who attended the Celilo Salmon Feast.