By N. Kathryn Brigham
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are at war with an invisible enemy and we fight this war alongside all 574 Tribal Nations, the United States, and the World as a whole.
In the beginning it seemed that this enemy would only take those over 60 years of age. Now we know that it will take anyone who is not careful. On one of my many conference calls this week a statement was made that 4,000 tribal people in Indian Country have lost their lives to this enemy.
This past Monday (April 20) a tribal fisher let us know that a person who attended the Celilo Salmon Feast April 18-19 had been tested presumptive positive with coronavirus. Then we heard two other tribal members in Warm Springs and Yakama had also been tested as presumptive positive. On Friday (April 24) night this invisible enemy took a strong Yakama fisherman from Celilo Village.
Now our thoughts and prayers are with the family on their loss. We are all praying that this enemy will not spread to any of the family or friends in the Village or the Columbia Plateau Tribes. All of us want to go out into our community to see our family and friends. Oregon’s Governor Brown also wants to reopen the economy and community. The Governor is willing to look at a reopening county by county.
But in order to reopen up Umatilla County one of the guidelines is that we need to have TWO WEEKS of declining coronavirus cases and symptoms. The longer people continue to go out into the community and get or spread the coronavirus the longer we will have a Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Save Lives.
Your actions will determine how long it takes to reopen up our community and be able to see each other once again. Are we going to be able to get back into the community in the near or far future?
The Board of Trustees does not want to lose this war and we want to reopen up our Tribal community. We do not want to lose anyone and we want to be able to see each other again soon.
We want all of us to survive, but we can only do this if you take care of yourself and your family. Please continue to Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Save Lives.
N. Kathryn Brigham is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.