We cautiously enter the holiday season, exhausted due to unprecedented challenges that we’ve all had to confront during the chaotic year of 2020, such as floods, fires, COVID, high unemployment, online education, daycare shortages, tele-work, and even toilet paper scarcity!
We also lost some degree of personal liberties, such as to travel afar, to (fully) practice our venerated Tamanwit, and to limit family gatherings to 25, then 10, now six as the second wave of COVID is upon us.
Thus, my aim this month is to remind you of your personal strength and resiliency, and to remind you to look around for the good in our lives, and be grateful. Allow me to start.
It’s been (only) a year since elected as your General Council Chairman, and I remain grateful every day for being lifted up by the People to this role to serve you. During that time, I’ve learned a great deal about our organization, as well as myself.
Since not allowed in the building much these days (to minimize virus spread at the NGC), I am challenged, yet grateful to have the option of working from home – a first in 34 years of jobs! So in-between work sessions, I get to interact with my 18 month old for a few minutes. This is bonus time for bonding, otherwise he would not see his toota until 5 p.m. Further, I am thankful my wife can stay safe at home, can continue breast-feeding our little one …all while growing her successful online craft business.
Further, Creator has allowed me to physically see/hug/kiss each of my children and grandson this year…for which I am eternally grateful, a heightened concern after one of my children tested positive, but recovered. So my empathetic prayers go out to all households as this virus knocks at our doorsteps and to those where this unwanted visitor had already been let in.
I am grateful that Yellowhawk provides same-day testing, and have contact tracers to reduce the spread and impact. Applause goes to our “essential” staff who cannot work from home, with a special shout out to DCFS, Finance and Enrollment for processing checks and providing food distributions to over 2,000 on and off-rez tribal members.
All in all, iin wees lilooyca (I am happy/thankful) to be alive today, to have family near, and to serve in a role to directly support the needs of our People. I am proud of the strength and resilience each of you have shown. We’ve been strong (qepsqepneewit). Resilient. Forced to adapt. Yet, we have persevered …chawna muun nampta (we will never fade).
In closing, a final note of appreciation and respect toward our outgoing historian, journalist, editor-in-chief, and perennial NAJA award winner Wil Phinney. He and his wife Carrie, a long-time administrator at Nixyáawii School have devoted professional careers and countless personal hours …in support of a community event, a cause, or for a student at NCS. Enjoy retirement, get some rest…and himeekis q’eciyew’ew (big thanks) for sharing the stories of the CTUIR.
Lindsey X. Watchman is General Council Chair for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.