CTUIR Board adopts first phase of COVID-19 assistance

By the CUJ

MISSION – A series of seven assistance programs, including no rent for three months for laid-off or furloughed Tribal members living in CTUIR Housing, was approved Wednesday, April 8, by the Board of Trustees (BOT).

Among other elements of the Phase 1 package (see full list at bottom of story) are suspension for three months of late fees and evictions in CTUIR Housing, expanded no-cost internet service, an increased base budget to the Emergency Assistance Program for Tribal members living on and off the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and continued food distribution – through a refrigerated truck – at the old Community Center gym parking lot.

The decision by the Board came following a televideo work session Wednesday that began at 11 a.m. Julie Taylor, director of the CTUIR Department of Children and Family Services, and Marcus Luke, director of the Tribes’ Housing Department, made presentations to the BOT in the morning.

Board members expressed their frustration to CTUIR Executive Director Ted Wright that only two Tribal departments were represented at the work session. They recessed for about 90 minutes before reconvening at 3 p.m. to adopt a polled motion at about 4:15 p.m.

Before recessing, BOT Chair Kat Brigham conveyed her irritation with Wright, telling him she was “very disappointed” that a more complete package with other expected elements was not being presented to the Board for consideration.

Brigham and other Board members said they wanted to see the “big picture.”

“Quite frankly,” Brigham told Wright, “I’m not happy with this presentation … When can we expect to see light at the end of the tunnel? When can we move about? We want to help tribal members on the reservation and tribal members everywhere. You need to put something together so we can act on it soon.”

Board members pointed out that CTUIR staff, like Taylor and Luke, had been working hard to come up with plans, but all the information was coming in piecemeal instead of as a package they could consider.

Board members discussed a number of things they wanted information about, including numbers of off-reservation tribal members, educational services, internet, commissions and committees, the federal stimulus package, emergency and general assistance, public safety, May dividends and child support, referral policies, increasing loan ceilings, loan fees and payments, emergency loans and defaults, and “any other ways we can help tribal members.”

They told Wright to return at 3 p.m. with a motion for the Board to review.

Wright came back with a list of 12 points that the Board didn’t like a whole lot better.

“This is labeled a Phase I social insurance motion to approve, but it looks like a task list that’s not in motion form. Are we to verify your notes? I need clarification,” General Council Lindsey Watchman said.

Wright said he did what he had time to do.

In the end, the seven-point Phase I package the Board adopted came out of Wright’s list.

Here is the COVID-19 Phase I assistance package adopted Wednesday, April 8, by the Board of Trustees for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation:


  1. CTUIR will pay rent April, May and June, for tribal members furloughed or laid off, with tenant’s option to have April reimbursed or subsidy extended a month for July’s payment.
  2. Suspend CTUIR housing rental late fees and evictions for April, May and June.
  3. Provide free Internet service as far as possible within the CTUIR community for 90-days by any means possible, to be initiated April 9th and completed as soon as possible thereafter.
  4. Provide an analysis of which Commissions and Committees need to be up and running next week and make arrangements so they get the information they need and are able to conduct meetings via conference call.
  5. Increase DCFS Emergency Assistance Program funds $50,000 from previous COVID-19 allocation to Incident Command, with $30,000 available to tribal members residing within 75 miles and $20,000 to assist those outside the 75-mile radius.
  6. Food distribution to reservation community will be provided through DCFS from the old gym parking lot [Public Works to rent a refrigeration truck from SYSCO and DCFS to organize food purchases and distribution in coordination with WRC, TTHC Senior Program, and DNR First Foods.
  7. Public Safety and Natural Resources will brief the Board on preparedness for flood, fire or other emergencies that may take place now or over the next 3-6 months. Work session to be conducted no later than April 30.