I recently signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency within Cherokee Nation, joining with similar declarations by the state and federal government. Emergency measures allow us to maximize our tools for addressing this crisis. Our courageous team at Cherokee Nation is doing everything possible to maintain essential services and meet the needs of the people, as our health and emergency staff prepare for the worst. Within the Cherokee Nation government and businesses, we have adopted telework principles and asked elders in our workforce to stay home and stay safe. The next few weeks are a crucial time to slow down the spread of the virus so that our health care providers are not overwhelmed. Because saving lives is our top priority, all Cherokee Nation casinos have suspended operation through the end of March. During this suspension, no casino employee will lose a paycheck.
Scenes like these played out across @CherokeeNation today. Grass roots Cherokee community organizers gathered perishable food from our temporarily closed hotels and casinos to for safe & sanitary delivery to Cherokee elders in need. #COVID19 #Gadugi #CherokeeStrong pic.twitter.com/sJebvfx5qC— Chuck Hoskin, Jr. (@ChuckHoskin_Jr) March 20, 2020
One of the most dangerous aspects of COVID-19 is that it may be spread by people who are not experiencing serious symptoms. By avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel, we can all help protect each other. That is why we have restricted travel and postponed community gatherings. We have postponed local meetings and conferences, as well as Cherokee Nation’s at-large gatherings and the planned Cherokee Days in Washington, D.C. As we increase precautions and implement strategies to reduce the impact of COVID-19, please understand that our first priority is to protect our elders, who are our most vulnerable community members during this time. The latest medical statistics indicate that those 60 and over are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. As Cherokee people, we are taught to respect our elders. Our elders carry our language, our traditions and our culture, and we will do everything in our power to protect their lives and legacy. Our elders are counting on us to keep them safe, and our Cherokee values make that a very high priority.