N. Kathryn Brigham

Healthy, safety remain top concern as we re-open

By Kat Brigham

On behalf of the Board of Trustees (BOT), I say congratulations to the tribal community on successfully staying safe and healthy over the past three months. Yellowhawk conducted their second round of testing for our community and all tests were negative.

This BOT is very concerned about your health and safety and we are providing all the resources necessary to protect our community.

On May 11 the BOT adopted guidelines for the Incident Command Team (ICT) to implement that will allow our tribal entities reopening based upon five tiers. Since then Yellowhawk, Cayuse Holdings and Wildhorse have prepared reopening plans and are now at Tier 3, which allows most staff to return to work. But at the same time all of us are very concerned about staff and guests feeling comfortable and safe returning to our facilities. Therefore all our entities are monitoring to see what additional improvements can be made to make people feel safe and healthy. You will see a number of mitigation plans set in place to include sneeze guards, social distancing measures and temperature taking devices.

We have charged the ICT and all of our entities to secure funding that will help us through COVID-19 and in our recovery. We have secured federal CARES funds to assist our community in protecting, monitoring and hopefully preventing coronavirus on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Please understand that these federal funds come with a number of guidelines and restrictions.

The BOT members are asking questions that need to clarify how we deploy these funds and once we have a clear picture of all the federal guidelines the CTUIR intends to use the funds appropriately ensuring we don’t put the CTUIR in a payback situation to the federal government.

The BOT appreciates your input. We are constantly working to reopen all our entities in a safe way. We all look forward to seeing you in person again, when it is safe. Your BOT is committed to providing all the resources necessary to help us through this pandemic and in the recovery of our community.

Kat Brigham is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.