Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Eagle Butte

Focus should be on whole Tribal response, not just checkpoints


Hau mitakuyapi. Focusing only on the public health checkpoints takes away what this tribe has done for the people that live here. This tribe has developed, from the top down, a member-centric strategy that involves a robust Tribal Health program that does contact tracing, that monitors at-risk people on the reservation, that has set up facilities to quarantine.

We have developed a department whose sole responsibility is to reach out to our elderly, so someone is calling them every day, asking them what their needs are. We’re asking people to stay home. When they call us and ask us for help, we will go out there and we will take them food, water, propane, those things that they desperately need in remote areas of the reservation.

Our economic development has gone out of their way to secure new distribution points so that we don’t run out of the items that we need on a reservation. Some ranchers of this reservation have donated cattle, dozens and dozens of cattle, to slaughter so we can collect them up. We’ve slaughtered them and we’ve put them into our food supply chain. We used that to build up our food pantry. We have set aside literally tens of thousands of pounds of protein in case supplies are cut off so that our people won’t starve.

It is not just health checkpoints that this tribe has initiated. This is a large, well-thought-out, well-planned and initiated system of taking care of the people on this reservation.

The success of the tribe’s efforts speak for itself. Our people are not going hungry. We’ve developed a whole new media strategy. We’ve put out a newspaper just for this. And we did that by working with local businesses and asking, “What can we do to work together on this?”

I think it’s a travesty that the media is focused on just our health checkpoints. I think it’s important to acknowledge everyone who has committed themselves to this.

I think it’s because the governor is focusing on our health checkpoints that everybody else seems to be focusing on the health checkpoints as well. That does a disservice to every single person who stepped up and left their families in an uncertain time — not knowing what their fate is going to be that day — to go out there and do those important things, to keep their family and their neighbors safe.

I think it’s a travesty that anyone would get upset about one part of this large process. To do that takes away from the valor those heroes are showing every single day.

I’m extremely proud of them, extremely proud. It’s not a perfect system, but facts speak for themselves. One case, taken care of, no spread.