Coronavirus graphic. (Courtesy of the cdc.gov website)
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — The Fort Hall Business Council has declared a state of emergency exists within the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and the Shoshone-Bannock Emergency Operation Plan and procedures are implemented because of the imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare because of the coronavirus or COVID 19.
As of March 18, there are nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Idaho according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
The FHBC approved the resolution March 17 and it’s in effect for at least a 30 day period. The COVID 19 emergency requires federal and state emergency assistance to support local efforts to protect life and lesson the threat of emergency with the Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Reservation. The resolution requests that the appropriate federal officials and the Idaho Governor provide assistance.
The FHBC also approved a resolution implanting restrictions that if an individual has been in contact with a test positive COVID-19 individual, he or she will be required to isolate for a period of 14 calendar days after contact. They are also advising everyone to reconsider future out-of-state travel or in-state travel to a high risk area. If one chooses to travel out-of-state or to a high risk area, he or she will have to self-isolate for 14 calendar days upon return. All travel bans can be implemented at any point in time and the person runs the risk of being unable to return home the resolution reads.
The FHBC sent out a letter to Shoshone-Bannock tribal members that explains there is a Tribal COVID- 19 Task Force, that is made up of representatives from Tribal Government, Tribal Health Department, Tribal Community Health Center, Indian Health Services, Tribal Enterprises, Sho-Ban High School, and the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel. “The Task Force meets weekly to advise the council and will be providing weekly community updates on the Tribes website (www.sbtribes.com), official Facebook page (Shoshone-Bannock Tribes), Sho-Ban News and other public notices, including at reservation district lodges,” the letter reads.
The letter addresses the COVID-19 virus as an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and is highly contagious. It also gives a list of safety precautions for the Fort Hall Community, including postponements/cancelation of large events, enactment of flexible personnel policies that allow employees necessary sick leave to recover, and the enactment of a travel ban until May 1.
In addition, the Tribes have postponed or cancelled large events of 50 people or more are postponed reservation wide and are effective immediately. Closures include: Timbee Hall, the Early Childhood Program and daycare, the services of the casino/ hotel’s Deka Gahni Deli, Cedar Spa, Painted Horse Buffet, and the Tribal Housing A-frame closed to vendors, along with community events.
Community members are encouraged to do their part and take precautionary measures such as avoiding close contact, stay home if sick, wash hands often, cover one’s mouth when coughing and avoid large gatherings where close proximity may take place.
Tribal Executive Director Elese Teton said in an email to employees the Tribes will remain working until the FHBC deems it necessary to shutdown tribal operations noting they will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and take action when necessary.
Fort Hall Indian Health Service
The Fort Hall Service Unit is changing its operations to reduce face to face contact as much as possible according to CEO Shirley Alvarez. They will be calling to reschedule routine appointments for some patients. If one is not called and want to be rescheduled, call them at 208-238-5427 or 5400.
If a person feels ill and want to be seen call the hotline for screening prior to entering the facility. Limited COVID-19 sample collection is available but the test results aren’t immediately available as it may take up a week or more because of high volumes at the off-site testing lab.
Medication refills may be provided without having to come to the facility for most patient. Immunizations are still recommended and provided through nurse visits. Dental and optometry visits are for urgent needs only, routine visits will be rescheduled.
If one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms – fever, cough or difficulty breathing call the Indian Health Service hotline at 208-238-5494 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you think you have a medical emergency call 911 – if its related to COVID-19 advise the Emergency Medical Services personnel as soon as they arrive.
Shoshone-Bannock Community Health Center and Test Kits: Chris Waterhouse, director of Tribal HRSA, said the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the After Hours Clinic both have the COVID-19 test kits available but they’re limited and was said to be a “small amount.” She said they’ve shared their plan with the leadership but will take it day-to-day as information is constantly changing and being updated.” The after-hours clinic does give patients the option to be tested from the comfort and isolation of their vehicle, they can check-in by calling or texting and someone will come out and meet them.
As of March 17, they were discouraging anyone to enter the clinic and advised everyone to call or text first when seeking their services. Call the front desk at 208-478-3987 and text at 208-530-9405. Waterhouse also advised that people can visit their local hospital to be seen and tested as well. She says she knows folks are worried, but there are ways to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Tribal Enterprises: Retail Operations Manager of Tribal Enterprise Carlie Jim said Trading Post closed early on March 17 due to deep cleaning and restocking. They received a shipment that day, but unfortunately it did not contain any paper products. Trading Post is currently out of all paper products, and will be having another elders/disabled shoppers day when they receive those products. They are currently limiting quantities of everything in the store to only two per customer. Jim said, “since we’ve deep cleaned the store, we figure the ones most vulnerable should come during 7-10 a.m. on Wednesday and shop while it’s clean.”
Jim also advised of other changes to the Enterprises: The dining areas of both Sage Hill and TP Gas stations have removed all tables and chairs. They are encouraging people to call in their orders to reduce the amount of people in the store at the same time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reduced the number of people who can gather as a group to 10 and the Tribal Enterprise is following the guidelines and is only allowing up to 10 people at any given time to be in the three gas stations, the Blue Corner Store and the Donzia gift shop. Also, The Donzia Gift Shop has reduced its hours of operation and will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. as of Tuesday, March 17.
Shoshone-Bannock Casino and Hotel: The casino hotel remains open and they’ve taken additional sanitation measures at their gaming locations. They’re not allowing staff members who are ill to come to work. They’ve installed hand sanitizing stations at all entrances. Interim manager Colista Eagle said in a press release the cancelation of the Bridal and Quinceanera Show; the closure of the Painted Horse Buffet, the Deka Gahni Deli, and the Cedar Spa. In addition, the Tracy Byrd Concert, the Champions of the Magic Show, and the bingo Spring Fling are rescheduled. They are currently offering refunds, and advised if guests paid via online they can request a refund by emailing them at email@example.com or if they purchased a ticket in person with cash they can receive a refund in person at the cashier window located inside the casino.
477 Human Services: In the interest of public safety they encourage people to stay home if they’re sick. The staff is practicing social distancing in all contacts.
The Food and Hygiene Pantry will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. at the Consumer Services Building #39. Call 208-478-3709 (Dustin) or 208-478-3984 (Jacki) for more information. They’re assisting people that are low-income eligible that have a completed application. Over income Tribal members cannot be assisted at this time.
The Adult Protection Program Offices are now open in the Old Casino Building. For more information please call 208-236-1073 or 208-236-1074 or for emergencies call 208-220-1007.
A drop box is available for 477 applications at the intake office area located inside the Old Casino.
477 Case Management intake by phone is available for those who cannot make it to the office because of illness. Call the TANF/GA front desk at 478-3979 (Krissy) to schedule.
Work Force Classes are postponed until further notice.
One on One Budgeting Classes will be available please call Jacki Wynn, House Hold Budget Counselor at 208-478-3984. One on One Employment Services are still available please call Johanna Whiteplume, Employment Specialist at 208-478-3982.
Census 2020 representatives with FHBC Chairman Ladd Edmo, Miss Shoshone-Bannock
Stormie Perdash and local tribal members.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Census 2020 Kick-Off Event “First Count Fort Hall” was Friday, March 13.
Randy’L Teton, Public Affairs Director, served in the capacity of moderator for Denell Broncho, Tribal Census Liaison, was absent because of a sinus infection.
Teton said they planned for the event for over a month and were hoping to fill the seats, but because of restrictions from the COVID-19 many had opted not to attend. However, she thanked all those in attendance.
The event began with a flag and honor song by the Spring Creek Singers with colors posted by Gifferd Osborne along with veterans Reggie Thorpe (U.S. Marines) and Darrell Archuleta (U.S. Army).
Fort Hall Business Council in attendance were Chairman Ladd Edmo and Secretary Donna Thompson.
Lenora Lavatta spoke from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Complete Count Committee, which is a group devoted to ensuring the people have an opportunity to understand the Census and help facilitate an accurate count. The committee planned to do District Enumeration Stations, but because of COVID-19 restrictions have been postponed. The committee will update everyone when activities resume for the 2020 Census. They encourage everyone to go online to my20202census.gov to complete the questionnaire.
The Tribal Complete Count Committee members include Census Liaison Denell Broncho, Lenora Lavatta, Sunny Stone, Jacki Wynn, Shirley Alvarez, Carolyn Torrescillas, Whitney Burns, Randy’L Teton, Myra Fred and Mike Stone, Sunflicker, who they hired to do three PSA’s, which were shown during the celebration. They hope to get them shown on local television stations.
Chairman Edmo welcomed everyone on behalf of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Fort Hall Business Council and acknowledged the efforts of the Census representatives present, Deputy Regional Director Jeffrey Enos, Tribal Census Coordinator Shana Radford, CFS Supervisor from Pocatello Manuel A. Padilla, and Recruiting Assistant/Census Response Rep Becky Jorgensen.
Chairman Edmo thanked everyone for their participation. He emphasized they do need to be counted in the Census because it benefits them as a people and helps with funding.
“If we don’t get counted, we’re losing out,” said Edmo. “Let everyone else know it’s important to be counted – so that we can benefit from this.”
Miss Shoshone-Bannock Stormie Perdash explained the Census shows the growth of the community and as a tribe and helps with programs and services in Fort Hall. She encouraged participation in order to help the community.
U.S. Census Bureau remarks were given by Jeffrey Enos, Deputy Regional Director from the Los Angeles Office, who explained Fort Hall was chosen to be the first site in Idaho to be counted due to their great partnership they’ve had with the Census Bureau, the energy they had and the engagement with them to make sure the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is fully counted.
Enos said, “Today we join together in an important moment in the history as we kick off our first counts of the 2020 Census in the lands of our first people. For the Census Bureau enumeration is the act of counting the population.” He explained it’s done every 10 years and their goal is a complete and accurate count.
He talked about how historically American Indians have had an undercount and they want to ensure that doesn’t happen in 2020.
“A complete count of American Indians contributes to better planning and decision making for Indian Country and it helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding is distributed into tribal communities,” he said. He added it also helps determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A statement from Tribal Census Liaison Denell Broncho was read acknowledging the efforts of the Tribal Complete Count Committee and the relationship with key partners, including the Census representatives, as well as contribution from Hal Hayball, GIS Analyst and Brooks Davis, who facilitate the Tribal Fast Command system and have worked developing and implementing the Reservation Rural Addressing Index. She also acknowledged the FHBC for their proclamation and support, the Idaho Community Foundation, Sunflicker, owned by Mike Stone for the PSA’s and the work of the Tribal Complete Count Committee, who’ve devoted hours of their time to planning, prepping, distributing and facilitating outreach events.
Louise Dixey, Language & Culture Director educated the audience on how the Census has impacted the tribal people.
From 1790 to 1820 the first enumeration began. She talked about how it changed over the years to being handwritten on paper to standardized forms used throughout the United States. When the standardized forms were developed the only ones who were taken Census of were free white males of 16 years or older, free white males under 16, free white females and all other freed persons by sex and color and slaves.
In 1860 was the first time American Indians and Alaska Natives were counted as a separate population category. From 1890 all the way to 1950 the enumerators had to determine who were the Indians. From 1960 to 1970 the tribal people were able to self-identify. From 1790 to the 1970s all Indian tribes were not counted, nor were they approached for being counted. In 1980 the Census Bureau finally actively sought American Indian and Alaska Native input. In 1990 the tribal government program was developed.
Dixey said there have been a lot of efforts by the Tribes to stay actively involved in the Census and in the voting process. She said after the treaties were signed and they were moved to reservations Indian became wards of the federal government and were placed under the supervision of the War Department initially. After they were then placed under the Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was responsible for accounting for the people and serve as the trustee for the Native people.
Dixey talked about how the Shoshone and Bannock people fall under the Fort Bridger Treaty. She said the Census listed the head of household, name of spouse, number of children, identified their sex, for the purpose of distributing goods or rations, not for the Census as it’s known today. It was set to fill the purpose of the treaty.
Tribal Census Coordinator Shana Radford thanked the Tribes for inviting her to attend and said they would proceed the first count for Idaho with the tribal elder selected Louida Ingawanup Unger. She explained participation in the Census is confidential and protected by law, therefore it would be a private event.
Louida Ingawanup Unger was selected to be counted for Fort Hall and was excited about the honor and said it was important to be counted. She encourages all her relatives and everyone to participate because she says it’s a help to the tribe.
She was raised on the Fort Hall Reservation all her life and went to boarding school where she learned a lot, but didn’t like that she couldn’t speak her Bannock language. She continues to teach the younger generation the language today and hopes to see it carry on.
Teton said they chose her as the elder to represent Fort Hall due to her age and her involvement in the community.
“We’re just really happy that she accepted our invitation to be one of our elders to be first counted and that’s awesome for our reservation and for the state of Idaho,” she said.